IL-3 is an important cytokine that regulates hematopoiesis and functions as a link between the immune and the hematopoietic system. In this study, we investigated the role and mechanism of IL-3 action on human osteoclast formation and bone resorption using PBMCs. PBMCs differentiate into functional osteoclasts in the presence of M-CSF and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand as evaluated by 23c6 expression and bone resorption. We found that IL-3 dose-dependently inhibited formation of 23c6-positive osteoclasts, bone resorption and C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen, a collagen degradation product. The inhibitory effect of IL-3 on bone resorption was irreversible. To investigate the mechanism of IL-3 action, we analyzed the effect of IL-3 on the receptor activator of NF-κB and c-Fms receptors and c-Fos, PU.1, NFAT cytoplasmic 1, and RelB transcription factors essential for osteoclastogenesis. IL-3 significantly inhibited c-Fms and downregulated both PU.1 and c-Fos at both mRNA and protein level. Furthermore, IL-3–treated cells showed increased expression of dendritic cell markers CD1a and CD80 and decreased expression of monocyte/macrophage marker CD14. Interestingly, IL-3 inhibited formation of human osteoclasts derived from blood monocytes and bone marrow cells of osteoporotic individuals. Thus, IL-3 may have therapeutic potential as an antiosteolytic agent in treatment of osteoporosis.
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