Mecp2 deficiency decreases bone formation and reduces bone volume in a rodent model of Rett syndrome

Academic Article


  • Rett syndrome (RTT), a neurological disorder characterized by neurological impairment and a high frequency of osteopenia which often manifests early in childhood, most often is caused by inactivating mutations in the X-linked gene encoding a regulator of epigenetic gene expression, methyl CpG binding protein, MeCP2. Clinical data show that, along with neurological defects, females with RTT frequently have marked decreases in bone mineral density (BMD) beyond that expected from disuse atrophy. To investigate the relationship between loss of Mecp2 and reduced BMD, we used a Mecp2 null mouse model, Mecp2 -/yBIRD, for our histological and biochemical studies. Mecp2 -/yBIRD mice have significantly shorter femurs and an overall reduced skeletal size compared to wild-type mice by post-natal day 60 (P60). Histological and histomorphometric studies identified growth plate abnormalities as well as decreased cortical and trabecular bone in P21 and especially in P60 Mecp2 -/yBIRD mice. Dynamic histomorphometry revealed decreased mineral apposition rates (MAR) in Mecp2 null femoral trabecular bone as well as in calvarial bone samples. While changes in MAR of cortical bone were not significant, loss of Mecp2 significantly reduced cortical, trabecular and calvarial bone volume compared with age-matched wild-type animals. These differences indicate that Mecp2 deficiency leads to osteoblast dysfunction, which translates into reduced osteoid deposition accounting for the reduced bone volume phenotype. While individual variations were observed in OPG and Rankl concentrations, molar ratios of OPG:Rankl at P21 and P60 were comparable between wild-type and Mecp2 -/yBIRD mice and showed a consistent excess of OPG. In tibial sections, TRAP staining demonstrated equivalent osteoclast number per bone surface measurements between wild-type and null animals. Our work with a Mecp2 null mouse model suggests epigenetic regulation of bone in the Mecp2 -/yBIRD mice which is associated with decreased osteoblast activity rather than increased osteoclastic bone loss. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

  • BONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • O'Connor RD; Zayzafoon M; Farach-Carson MC; Schanen NC
  • Start Page

  • 346
  • End Page

  • 356
  • Volume

  • 45
  • Issue

  • 2