Treatment with tacrolimus enhances alveolar bone formation and decreases osteoclast number in the maxillae: A histomorphometric and ultrastructural study in rats


Recent studies have suggested that tacrolimus monotherapy is a beneficial therapeutic alternative for the normalization of cyclosporin- induced bone loss in animal models and humans. The mechanism accounting for this action is unclear at present. In the present study, we attempted to determine the effect of tacrolimus monotherapy on alveolar bone using histological, histomorphometrical and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).Groups of rats (n= 10 each) were treated with either tacrolimus (1mg/ kg/ day, s.c.) or drug vehicle for 60 days. Fragments containing maxillary molars were processed for light microscopy to investigate the alveolar bone volume, trabecular separation, number of osteoclasts and osteoblasts, and transmission electron microscopy to investigate their ultrastructural basic phenotype.Treatment with tacrolimus monotherapy during 60 days may induce increases in alveolar bone volume (BV/ TV,%; P < 0.05) and a non- significant decrease in trabecular separation (Tb. Sp, mm; P > 0.05), represented by a decrease in osteoclast number (N. Oc/ BS; P < 0.05) and maintenance of osteoblast number (N. Ob/ BS; P > 0.05). Osteoblasts were often observed as a continuous layer of active cells on the bone surface. Osteoclasts appeared to be detached from the resorbed bone surface, which was often filled by active osteoblasts and collagen- rich matrix. Moreover, osteoclasts in the treated group were frequently observed as inactive cells (without ruffled border, clear zone and detached from the bone surface).Within the limits of the present study, we conclude that tacrolimus leads to an increase in alveolar bone formation, which probably exerts action on osteoclasts. Tacrolimus could, therefore, play a crucial role in the control of both early osteoclast differentiations from precursors, as well as in functional activation.



tacrolimus, osteoclasts, osteoblasts

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Histology And Histopathology. Murcia: F Hernandez, v. 23, n. 10, p. 1177-1184, 2008.