Serotonin regulates osteoclast differentiation through its transporter

Ricardo Battaglino, Jia Fu, Ulrike Späte, Ulku Ersoy, Martha Joe, Leela Sedaghat, Philip Stashenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


5-HTT mediates antidepressant-sensitive clearance of 5-HT after its release into neural synapses. We found increased expression of 5-HTT in RANKL-induced osteoclast-like cells. Fluoxetine, an inhibitor of 5-HTT, reduced osteoclast differentiation but not activation. Reserpine, an inhibitor of 5-HT intracellular transport, potentiated differentiation. These results indicate a role for 5-HTT in osteoclast function and suggest that commonly used antidepressive agents may affect bone mass. Introduction: Interactions between the serotonergic and skeletal systems are suggested by various clinical observations but are poorly understood. Materials and Methods: Using gene microarrays, we found that the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) was strongly expressed in RANKL-induced osteoclasts. Using RANKL stimulation of RAW264.7 cells and mouse bone marrow cells as a model system for osteoclast differentiation, we studied the possible role/s of the different components of the serotonin (5-HT) system on the differentiation process. Results: Osteoclast 5-HTT exhibited typical 5-HT uptake activity that was inhibitable by fluoxetine (Prozac). Fluoxetine reduced osteoclast differentiation but did not inhibit the activation of preformed osteoclasts, whereas the addition of 5-HT itself enhanced differentiation. Fluoxetine-treated osteoclast precursors had reduced NF-κB activation and elevated inhibitory protein κBα (IκBα) levels compared with untreated cells. 5-HT, on the other hand, resulted in activation of NF-κ. Reserpine inhibition of intracellular transport of 5-HT into cytoplasmic vesicles potentiated RANKL-induced osteoclast formation, suggesting the importance of intracellular 5-HT in regulating osteoclast differentiation. Reserpine also modestly enhanced the expression of the osteoclast marker TRACP in the absence of RANKL. Conclusions: Taken together, these data suggest that the 5-HT system plays an important role in bone homeostasis through effects on osteoclast differentiation and implies that commonly used antidepressive agents may affect bone mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1420-1431
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone
  • Differentiation
  • Neural regulation
  • Osteoclasts
  • Serotonin


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