Osteoclasts are multinucleated cells that resorb bone. Osteoclastogenesis inhibitory factor (OCIF), also called osteoprotegerin (OPG), acts as a naturally occurring decoy receptor for osteoclast differentiation factor, which mediates an essential signal to osteoclast progenitors for their differentiation into osteoclasts. Here we show that the OCIF/OPG knockout mice exhibited severe osteoporosis due to enhanced osteoclastogenesis when they grew to be adults. These mice were viable and fertile. They exhibited marked bone loss accompanied by destruction of growth plate and lack of trabecular bone in their femurs. The strength of their bones dramatically decreased. These results demonstrate that OCIF/OPG is a key factor acting as a negative regulator against osteoclastogenesis. The OCIF/OPG knockout mice provide the first animal model for osteoporosis without other obvious abnormalities.
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