The role of IL-23 in the development of arthritis and bone metabolism was studied using systemic IL-23 exposure in adult mice via hydrodynamic delivery of IL-23 minicircle DNA in vivo and in mice genetically deficient in IL-23. Systemic IL-23 exposure induced chronic arthritis, severe bone loss, and myelopoiesis in the bone marrow and spleen, which resulted in increased osteoclast differentiation and systemic bone loss. The effect of IL-23 was partly dependent on CD4+ T cells, IL-17A, and TNF, but could not be reproduced by overexpression of IL-17A in vivo. A key role in the IL-23 - induced arthritis was made by the expansion and activity of myeloid cells. Bone marrow macrophages derived from IL-23p19-/- mice showed a slower maturation into osteoclasts with reduced tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive cells and dentine resorption capacity in in vitro osteoclastogenesis assays. This correlated with fewer multinucleated osteoclast-like cells and more trabecular bone volume and number in 26-wk-old male IL-23p19-/- mice compared with control animals. Collectively, our data suggest that systemic IL-23 exposure induces the expansion of a myeloid lineage osteoclast precursor, and targeting IL-23 pathway may combat inflammation-driven bone destruction as observed in rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritides.
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