Sclerostin is a cysteine-knot glycoprotein product of the SOST gene, predominately expressed by osteocytes, that is a regulator of osteoblastic bone formation. When sclerostin binds to its low-density lipoprotein receptor-related proteins 5 and 6 on the cell membrane of osteoblasts, it inhibits canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling and reduces osteoblastic bone formation. Sclerostin was first identified in the study of two rare autosomal recessive disorders, sclerosteosis and van Buchem disease, which are associated with absent or reduced levels of sclerostin. Although homozygote patients with these disorders have serious adverse clinical consequences due to excessive bone growth, heterozygote patients have a normal phenotype, high bone mass, and very low risk of fractures. This has led to the concept that downregulation of sclerostin might be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis. Several humanized monoclonal antibodies to sclerostin, including romosozumab and blosozumab, are now in clinical development. Preliminary data show that these agents result in a transient increase in bone formation markers, a sustained decrease in bone resorption markers, and a robust increase in bone mineral density. If any of these agents are found to reduce fracture risk with a favorable safety profile, it will expand the options for osteoanabolic therapy for patients at high risk for fractures.
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Conflict of interest
M. Sharifi and L. Ereifej have nothing to disclose.
E.M. Lewiecki has received institutional grant/research support from Amgen, Merck, and Eli Lilly; he has served on scientific advisory boards for Amgen, Merck, Eli Lilly, Radius Health, AgNovos Healthcare, Alexion, and NPS.
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Sharifi, M., Ereifej, L. & Lewiecki, E.M. Sclerostin and skeletal health. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 16, 149–156 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-015-9311-6