Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) cause bone fragility due to deterioration in bone quality. We previously reported that AGE3 induced apoptosis and inhibited differentiation via increased transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling in osteoblastic cells. Additionally, we demonstrated that AGE3 increased apoptosis and sclerostin expression and decreased receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) expression in osteocyte-like cells. However, it remains unclear whether TGF-β signaling is involved in the effects of AGEs on apoptosis and the expression of sclerostin and RANKL in osteocytes. Effects of AGE3 on apoptosis of mouse osteocyte-like MLO-Y4-A2 cells were examined by DNA fragmentation ELISA. Expression of TGF-β, sclerostin, and RANKL was evaluated using real-time PCR, Western blotting, and ELISA kits. To block TGF-β signaling, we used SD208, a TGF-β type I receptor kinase inhibitor. AGE3 (200 µg/mL) significantly increased apoptosis and mRNA expression of Sost, the gene encoding sclerostin, and decreased Rankl mRNA expression in MLO-Y4-A2 cells. AGE3 significantly increased the expression of TGF-β. Co-incubation of SD208 with AGE3 significantly rescued AGE3-induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, SD208 restored AGE3-increased mRNA and protein expression of sclerostin. In contrast, SD208 did not affect AGE3-decreased mRNA and protein expression of RANKL. These findings suggest that AGE3 increases apoptosis and sclerostin expression through increasing TGF-β expression in osteocytes, and that AGE3 decreases RANKL expression independent of TGF-β signaling.
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