Mechanical induction of PGE2 in osteocytes blocks glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis through both the β-catenin and PKA pathways

Yukiko Kitase, Leonardo Barragan, Hai Qing, Shino Kondoh, Jean X. Jiang, Mark L. Johnson, Lynda F. Bonewald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids are known to induce osteocyte apoptosis, whereas mechanical loading has been shown to sustain osteocyte viability. Here we show that mechanical loading in the form of fluid-flow shear stress blocks dexamethasone-induced apoptosis of osteocyte-like cells (MLO-Y4). Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a rapidly induced signaling molecule produced by osteocytes, was shown to be protective against dexamethasone-induced apoptosis, whereas indomethacin reversed the antiapoptotic effects of shear stress. This protective effect of shear stress was mediated through EP2 and EP4 receptors, leading to activation of the cAMP/protein kinase A signaling pathway. Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, an inhibitor of glycogen synthesis kinase 3, also occurred, leading to the nuclear translocation of β-catenin, an important signal transducer of the Wnt signaling pathway. Both shear stress and prostaglandin increased the phosphorylation of glycogen synthesis kinase 3 α/β. Lithium chloride, an activator of the Wnt pathway, also was protective against glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. Whereas it is known that mechanical loading increases cyclooxygenase-2 and EP2 receptor expression and prostaglandin production, dexamethasone was shown to inhibit expression of these components of the prostaglandin pathway and to reduce β-catenin protein expression. β-catenin siRNA knockdown experiments abrogated the protective effects of PGE2, confirming the central role of β-catenin in mediating the protection against dexamethasone-induced cell death. Our data support a central role for PGE2 acting through the cAMP/PKA and β-catenin signaling pathways in the protection of osteocyte apoptosis by fluid-flow shear stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2657-2668
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • MLO-Y4 Cells
  • Osteocytes
  • WNT Signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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