Kynurenine promotes rankl–induced osteoclastogenesis in vitro by activating the aryl hydrocarbon receptor pathway

Nada H. Eisa, Sakamuri V. Reddy, Ahmed M. Elmansi, Galina Kondrikova, Dmitry Yuryevich Kondrikov, Xing Ming Shi, Chad M. Novince, Mark W. Hamrick, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Carlos M. Isales, Sadanand Fulzele, William D Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


There is increasing evidence of the involvement of the tryptophan metabolite kynurenine (KYN) in disrupting osteogenesis and contributing to aging-related bone loss. Here, we show that KYN has an effect on bone resorption by increasing osteoclastogenesis. We have previously reported that in vivo treatment with KYN significantly increased osteoclast number lining bone surfaces. Here, we report the direct effect of KYN on receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclastogenesis in Raw 264.7 macrophage cells, and we propose a potential mechanism for these KYN-mediated effects. We show that KYN/RANKL treatment results in enhancement of RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation. KYN drives upregulation and activation of the key osteoclast transcription factors, c-fos and NFATc1 resulting in an increase in the number of multinucleated TRAP+ osteoclasts, and in hydroxyapatite bone resorptive activity. Mechanistically, the KYN receptor, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), plays an important role in the induction of osteoclastogenesis. We show that blocking AhR signaling using an AhR antagonist, or AhR siRNA, downregulates the KYN/RANKL-mediated increase in c-fos and NFATc1 and inhibits the formation of multinucleated TRAP + osteoclasts. Altogether, this work highlights that the novelty of the KYN and AhR pathways might have a potential role in helping to regulate osteoclast function with age and supports pursuing additional research to determine if they are potential therapeutic targets for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7931
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • AhR
  • C-fos
  • Kynurenine
  • NFATc1
  • Osteoclast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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