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Activated immune cells release cytokines which modulate the activity of bone cells in vitro. Expression of major histocompatibility complex (HLA in humans) class II determinants on bone surface cells may be important in local immune cell activation. In this study, expression of HLA-DR and DQ by cultured human bone cells (HBC) derived from normal trabecular bone surfaces was assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis and immunoperoxidase techniques using monoclonal antibodies. A subset of HBC (10-30%) expressed DR constitutively while 5-15% displayed DQ during long-term culture. HBC lacked a number of monocyte and lymphocyte markers. In addition, both DR+ and DR- HBC (FACS separated) produced osteocalcin stimulated by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D2 (1,25(OH)2D3). This suggests that both phenotypes belong to the osteoblast lineage. The number of DR+ HBC was increased by interferon-gamma (IFN gamma; 40-95% DR+ cells) whereas DQ+ HBC remained unchanged or was slightly increased (5-20% DQ+ cells). Moreover, 1,25(OH)2D3 enhanced IFN gamma-induced DR expression and at high concentration (10(-7) M) augmented DR expression by itself. Other major osteotropic factors, parathyroid hormone, interleukin 1, and calcitonin, did not affect HBC DR expression. The findings suggest that HBC may participate in activation of the immune system and that some osteotropic factors may regulate this function.

Original publication




Journal article


J clin invest

Publication Date





1421 - 1426


Adult, Aged, Bone and Bones, Calcitonin, Calcitriol, Cells, Cultured, Cycloheximide, Female, HLA-DQ Antigens, HLA-DR Antigens, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-1, Kinetics, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoblasts, Osteocalcin, Parathyroid Hormone, Recombinant Proteins