Correlation between mRNA levels for bone cell proteins and bone formation in long bones of maturing rats

R. T. Turner, T. C. Spelsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This report describes the relationship between bone formation and mRNA levels for selected bone proteins. Dynamic bone histomorphometry was used to measure bone formation in tibial periosteum of male rats from weanling (3 wk) to 52 wk old. Northern blot analysis of freshly isolated periosteal cells from the long bones was used to determine steady-state mRNA levels for the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAP), the bone matrix proteins osteocalcin (BGP), and prepro α-2(I) chain of type 1 precollagen (collagen), the osteoblast marker enzyme alkaline phosphatase (AP), and the osteoblast-derived signaling factor (growth factor) transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). Radial growth at the tibial diaphysis achieved a maximum value in 8-wk-old rats and decreased progressively with age thereafter. This age-related decrease in the radial growth rate was initially due to reduced osteoblast activity; however, in older rats (>17 wk old) reduced osteoblast number contributed to the decrease in bone formation. There was a strong correlation between the steady-state mRNA level for collagen and the periosteal bone formation rate. In contrast, the mRNA levels for the other bone proteins were more weakly correlated (TGF-β and AP) or not correlated (BGP). These results suggest that the decreased bone matrix synthesis by periosteal cells in long bones of maturing rats is due to decreased expression of genes for bone matrix proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E348-E353
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3 24-3
StatePublished - 1991


  • Bone histomorphometry
  • Bone matrix proteins
  • Collagen
  • Northern blot analysis
  • Osteocalcin
  • Rat bone
  • Signaling factors
  • Steady-state mRNA levels
  • Transforming growth factor-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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