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Systemic administration of low-dose naltrexone increases bone mass due to blockade of opioid growth factor receptor signaling in mice osteoblasts.

Systemic administration of low-dose naltrexone increases bone mass due to blockade of opioid growth factor receptor signaling in mice osteoblasts.
Publication Type
Journal Article
Research Type
Lab (in-vitro)
Reported as
Clinical Trial
March 28, 2019
K. Tanaka, H. Kondo, K. Hamamura, A. Togari
Aichi-Gakuin University

AIMS: Opioid receptor blockers such as naloxone and naltrexone have been suggested to have a bone mass-increasing effect. However, the mechanisms at play have not been clarified. We examined the effects of naltrexone on osteoblasts and determined the expression of opioid growth factor receptor (OGFR) in osteoblasts. Naltrexone blocks the OGFR and other canonical opioid receptors. Thus, we designed experiments to clarify the effects of naltrexone on bone tissue by examining the physiological role of OGFR signaling in osteoblasts and the changes in bone structure after naltrexone systemic administration in mice.

MAIN METHODS: We used mouse osteoblast-like cell line MC3T3-E1 for in vitro experiments. We cultured MC3T3-E1 cells in the presence of the OGFR agonist met-enkephalin (met-enk). Then, we measured cell proliferation activity and analyzed the expression levels of cell proliferation-related genes. For our in vivo experiments, we administered naltrexone intraperitoneally to mice daily for 28 days and administered the animals in the control group equivalent volumes of saline. After sacrificing the mice, we performed micro-computed tomography and bone morphology analyses.

KEY FINDINGS: Met-enk suppressed cell proliferation in MC3T3-E1 cells. Moreover, low dose naltrexone administration significantly increased their femoral bone mass, bone formation ratio, and osteoblast number/bone surface values when comparing the values for the same variables in the control group.

SIGNIFICANCE: Our results suggest that naltrexone increases bone mass due to osteoblast number increments caused by the OGFR signaling block. Opioid receptor blockers have potential as therapeutic agents for osteoporosis as well as opioid antagonists.

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