Cathepsin S controls adipocytic and osteoblastic differentiation, bone turnover, and bone microarchitecture

M. Rauner, U. Föger-Samwald, M. F. Kurz, C. Brünner-Kubath, D. Schamall, A. Kapfenberger, P. Varga, S. Kudlacek, A. Wutzl, H. Höger, P. K. Zysset, G. P. Shi, L. C. Hofbauer, W. Sipos, P. Pietschmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

30 Citations (Scopus)


Cathepsin S is a cysteine protease that controls adipocyte differentiation and has been implicated in vascular and metabolic complications of obesity. Considering the inverse relation of osteoblasts and adipocytes and their mutual precursor cell, we hypothesized that cathepsin S may also affect osteoblast differentiation and bone remodeling. Thus, the fat and bone phenotypes of young (3. months old) and aged (12 or 18. months old) cathepsin S knock-out (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice were determined.Cathepsin S KO mice had a normal body weight at both ages investigated, even though the amount of subscapular and gonadal fat pads was reduced by 20%. Further, cathepsin S deficiency impaired adipocyte formation (38%, p. <. 0.001), which was accompanied by a lower expression of adipocyte-related genes and a reduction in serum leptin, IL-6 and CCL2 (p. <. 0.001). Micro-CT analysis revealed an unchanged trabecular bone volume fraction and density, while tissue mineral density was significantly lower in cathepsin S KO mice at both ages. Aged KO mice further had a lower cortical bone mass (2.3%, p. <. 0.05). At the microarchitectural level, cathepsin S KO mice had thinner trabeculae (8.3%), but a better connected trabecular network (+. 24%). Serum levels of the bone formation marker type 1 procollagen amino-terminal-propeptide and osteocalcin were both 2-3-fold higher in cathepsin S KO mice as was the mineralized surface. Consistently, osteogenic differentiation was increased 2-fold along with an increased expression of osteoblast-specific genes. Interestingly, serum levels of C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen were also higher (+. 43%) in cathepsin S KO mice as were histological osteoclast parameters and ex vivo osteoclast differentiation.Thus, cathepsin S deficiency alters the balance between adipocyte and osteoblast differentiation, increases bone turnover, and changes bone microarchitecture. Therefore, bone and fat metabolisms should be monitored when using cathepsin S inhibitors clinically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipocyte
  • Bone remodeling
  • Cathepsin S
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteoclast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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