Current Osteoporosis Reports

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 72–82 | Cite as

MicroRNA Functions in Osteogenesis and Dysfunctions in Osteoporosis

  • Andre J. van Wijnen
  • Jeroen van de Peppel
  • Johannes P. van Leeuwen
  • Jane B. Lian
  • Gary S. Stein
  • Jennifer J. Westendorf
  • Merry-Jo Oursler
  • Hee-Jeong Im
  • Hanna Taipaleenmäki
  • Eric Hesse
  • Scott Riester
  • Sanjeev Kakar
Skeletal Biology (DB Burr, Section Editor)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression that control osteoblast mediated bone formation and osteoclast-related bone remodeling. Deregulation of miRNA mediated mechanisms is emerging as an important pathological factor in bone degeneration (eg, osteoporosis) and other bone-related diseases. MiRNAs are intriguing regulatory molecules that are networked with cell signaling pathways and intricate transcriptional programs through ingenuous circuits with remarkably simple logic. This overview examines key principles by which miRNAs control differentiation of osteoblasts as they evolve from mesenchymal stromal cells during osteogenesis, or of osteoclasts as they originate from monocytic precursors in the hematopoietic lineage during osteoclastogenesis. Of particular note are miRNAs that are temporally upregulated during osteoblastogenesis (eg, miR-218) or osteoclastogenesis (eg, miR-148a). Each miRNA stimulates differentiation by suppressing inhibitory signaling pathways (‘double-negative’ regulation). The excitement surrounding miRNAs in bone biology stems from the prominent effects that individual miRNAs can have on biological transitions during differentiation of skeletal cells and correlations of miRNA dysfunction with bone diseases. MiRNAs have significant clinical potential which is reflected by their versatility as disease-specific biomarkers and their promise as therapeutic agents to ameliorate or reverse bone tissue degeneration.


Osteoblast Osteoclast Osteoporosis Skeletal development Bone mineral density Osteogenesis Mesenchymal stem cell miRNA 


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andre J. van Wijnen
    • 1
  • Jeroen van de Peppel
    • 2
  • Johannes P. van Leeuwen
    • 2
  • Jane B. Lian
    • 3
  • Gary S. Stein
    • 3
  • Jennifer J. Westendorf
    • 1
  • Merry-Jo Oursler
    • 1
  • Hee-Jeong Im
    • 4
  • Hanna Taipaleenmäki
    • 5
  • Eric Hesse
    • 5
  • Scott Riester
    • 1
  • Sanjeev Kakar
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Orthopedic Surgery & Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyCenter of Regenerative MedicineRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineErasmus Medical Centre RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, HSRF 326, Vermont Cancer Center for Basic and Translational ResearchUniversity of Vermont Medical SchoolBurlingtonUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Biochemistry, Internal Medicine (Rheumatology) and Department of Orthopedic SurgeryRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  5. 5.Heisenberg-Group for Molecular Skeletal Biology, Department of Trauma, Hand and Reconstructive SurgeryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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