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Communications Biology


Tightly regulated and cell-specific NADPH-oxidases (Nox) represent one of the major sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling molecules that are involved in tissue development and stem cell self-renewal. We have characterized the role of Nox4 in osteo-progenitors during postnatal bone development. Nox4 expression in bone and ROS generation were increased during early osteoblast differentiation and bone development. Stromal osteoblastic cell self-renewal, proliferation and ROS production were significantly lower in samples from whole-body Nox4 knockout mice (Nox4-/-) and conditional knockout (CKO) mice with depletion of Nox4 in the limb bud mesenchyme compared with those from control mice (Nox4fl/fl), but they were reversed after 9 passages. In both sexes, bone volume, trabecular number and bone mineral density were significantly lower in 3-week old CKO and Nox4-/- mice compared with Nox4fl/fl controls. This was reflected in serum levels of bone formation markers alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and procollagen 1 intact N-terminal propeptide (P1NP). However, under-developed bone formation in 3-week old CKO and Nox4-/- mice quickly caught up to levels of control mice by 6-week of age, remained no different at 13-week of age, and was reversed in 32-week old male mice. Osteoclastogenesis showed no differences among groups, however, CTX1 reflecting osteoclast activity was significantly higher in 3-week old male CKO and Nox4-/- mice compared with control mice, and significantly lower in 32-week old Nox4-/- mice compared with control mice. These data suggest that Nox4 expression and ROS signaling in bone and osteoblastic cells coordinately play an important role in osteoblast differentiation, proliferation and maturation.

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