Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor kappa-B Ligand is Not Regulated During Chronic Osteomyelitis in Pigs

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Bone loss is a major complication of osteomyelitis and from numerous in-vitro studies, it has been concluded that the bone lysis is caused by elevated expression of the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), leading to increased osteoclast activity. However, we failed to find any relationship between bone loss and osseous RANKL expression in a porcine model of acute and chronic implant-associated osteomyelitis (IAO) due to Staphylococcus aureus or in chronic osteomyelitis lesions in slaughter pigs. Surprisingly, we found that the expression of RANKL was reduced during chronic bone infections. This is in line with the few studies conducted on human samples. A significant bone loss was observed in IAO lesions and in lesions from slaughter pigs, but with no indication of osteoclast involvement using histochemistry, immunohistochemistry for RANKL, receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B, osteoprotegerin and cathepsin K, and high-throughput quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction on bone tissue from osteomyelitic lesions. A strong inflammatory response was seen in the infected animals and, therefore, we propose proteolytic enzymes induced by inflammation to be a major component of the bone loss. Furthermore, we found a significant upregulation of the IL26 gene in infected animals, which can inhibit RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis, but has no homologue in mice. This finding emphasises that neither murine models nor in-vitro studies can mirror human disease development completely. The present study emphasises that the interactions between microorganisms, the immune system and bone cells in osteomyelitis are too complex to be accurately represented by an in-vitro model.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
Pages (from-to)7-24
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • animal models, osteolysis, osteomyelitis, pig

ID: 248646626