Osteoporosis may complicate iron overload diseases such as genetic hemochromatosis. However, molecular mechanisms involved in the iron-related osteoporosis remains poorly understood. Recent in vitro studies support a role of osteoblast impairment in iron-related osteoporosis. Our aim was to analyse the impact of excess iron in Hfe-/- mice on osteoblast activity and on bone microarchitecture. We studied the bone formation rate, a dynamic parameter reflecting osteoblast activity, and the bone phenotype of Hfe-/- male mice, a mouse model of human hemochromatosis, by using histomorphometry. Hfe-/- animals were sacrificed at 6 months and compared to controls. We found that bone contains excess iron associated with increased hepatic iron concentration in Hfe-/- mice. We have shown that animals with iron overload have decreased bone formation rate, suggesting a direct impact of iron excess on active osteoblasts number. For bone mass parameters, we showed that iron deposition was associated with bone loss by producing microarchitectural impairment with a decreased tendency in bone trabecular volume and trabecular number. A disorganization of trabecular network was found with marrow spaces increased, which was confirmed by enhanced trabecular separation and star volume of marrow spaces. These microarchitectural changes led to a loss of connectivity and complexity in the trabecular network, which was confirmed by decreased interconnectivity index and increased Minkowski's fractal dimension. Our results suggest for the first time in a genetic hemochromatosis mouse model, that iron overload decreases bone formation and leads to alterations in bone mass and microarchitecture. These observations support a negative effect of iron on osteoblast recruitment and/or function, which may contribute to iron-related osteoporosis.
Doyard, M., Chappard, D., Leroyer, P., Roth, M. P., Loréal, O., & Guggenbuhl, P. (2016). Decreased bone formation explains osteoporosis in a genetic mouse model of hemochromatosiss. PLoS ONE, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0148292