iNOS expression and osteocyte apoptosis in idiopathic, non- traumatic osteonecrosis

Wang, Jun, Kalhor, Ali, Lu, Shifeier, Crawford, Ross, Ni, Jiang-Dong, & Xiao, Yin (2015) iNOS expression and osteocyte apoptosis in idiopathic, non- traumatic osteonecrosis. Acta Orthopaedica, 86(1), pp. 134-141.

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Background and purpose

Non-traumatic osteonecrosis is a progressive disease with multiple etiologies. It affects younger individuals more and more, often leading to total hip arthroplasty. We investigated whether there is a correlation between inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression and osteocyte apoptosis in non-traumatic osteonecrosis.

Patients and methods

We collected and studied 20 human idiopathic, non-traumatic osteonecrosis femoral heads. Subchondral bone samples in the non-sclerotic region (n = 30), collected from osteoarthritis patients, were used as controls. Spontaneously hypertensive rats were used as a model for osteonecrosis in the study. We used scanning electron microscopy, TUNEL assay, and immunohistochemical staining to study osteocyte changes and apoptosis.


The morphology of osteocytes in the areas close to the necrotic region changed and the number of apoptotic osteocytes increased in comparison with the same region in control groups. The expression of iNOS and cytochrome C in osteocytes increased while Bax expression was not detectable in osteonecrosis samples. Using spontaneously hypertensive rats, we found a positive correlation between iNOS expression and osteocyte apoptosis in the osteonecrotic region. iNOS inhibitor (aminoguanidine) added to the drinking water for 5 weeks reduced the production of iNOS and osteonecrosis compared to a control group without aminoguanidine.


Our findings show that increased iNOS expression can lead to osteocyte apopotosis in idiopathic, non-traumatic osteonecrosis and that an iNOS inhibitor may prevent the progression of the disease.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 73986
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: osteonecrosis, osteocyte, nitric oxide synthase, aminoguanidine, apoptosis, cytochrome C
DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2014.960997
ISSN: 1745-3682
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 28 Jan 2015 03:37
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 22:19

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