Abstract Abnormal antioxidative capabilities were observed in the pathogenesis of steroid-induced osteoporosis (SIOP). Ferroptosis is a recently discovered type of cell death that is characterized by the overproduction of ROS in response to GPX4 and system Xc− downregulation, which is mediated by an Fe2+ fenton reaction. However, investigations focusing on the relationship between ferroptosis and steroid-induced bone disease remain limited. In the present study, high-dose dexamethasone was used to establish a mouse SIOP model, and extracellular vesicles extracted from bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPC-EVs) alleviated the pathological changes in SIOP via microtomography (micro-CT), with elevations in bone volume (BV), bone surface (BS), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th), and trabecular connectivity density (Conn-D) and decreases in trabecular separation (Tb.sp) and the structure model index (SMI). Histopathological analysis, such as haematoxylin and eosin (HE) and Masson staining, showed that EPC-EVs treatment increased the volume and density of the trabecular bone and bone marrow. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and bioinformatics analysis revealed subcellular biological alterations upon steroid and EPC-EVs treatment. Compared with the control, high-dose dexamethasone downregulated GPX4 and system XC−, and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG)-based gene set enrichment analysis suggested that the ferroptotic pathway was activated. In contrast, combination treatment with EPC-EVs partly reversed the KEGG-mapped changes in the ferroptotic pathway at both the gene and mRNA expression levels. In addition, alterations in ferroptotic marker expression, such as SLC3A2, SLC7A11, and GPX4, were further confirmed by RNA-seq. EPC-EVs were able to reverse dexamethasone treatment-induced alterations in cysteine and several oxidative injury markers, such as malondialdehyde (MDA), glutathione (GSH), and glutathione disulphide (GSSG) (as detected by ELISA). In conclusion, EPC-EVs prevented mouse glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis by suppressing the ferroptotic pathway in osteoblasts, which may provide a basis for novel therapies for SIOP in humans.
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