Biotechnological approach for systemic delivery of membrane Receptor Activator of NF-κB Ligand (RANKL) active domain into the circulation

Alfredo Cappariello, Riccardo Paone, Antonio Maurizi, Mattia Capulli, Nadia Rucci, Maurizio Muraca, Anna Teti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deficiency of Receptor Activator of NF-κB Ligand (RANKL) prevents osteoclast formation causing osteopetrosis. RANKL is a membrane-bound protein cleaved into active soluble (s)RANKL by metalloproteinase 14 (MMP14). We created a bio-device that harbors primary osteoblasts, cultured on 3D hydroxyapatite scaffolds carrying immobilized MMP14 catalytic domain. Scaffolds were sealed in diffusion chambers and implanted in RANKL-deficient mice. Mice received 1 or 2 diffusion chambers, once or twice and were sacrificed after 1 or 2 months from implants. A progressive increase of body weight was observed in the implanted groups. Histological sections of tibias of non-implanted mice were negative for the osteoclast marker Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase (TRAcP), consistent with the lack of osteoclasts. In contrast, tibias excised from implanted mice showed TRAcP-positive cells in the bone marrow and on the bone surface, these latter morphologically similar to mature osteoclasts. In mice implanted with 4 diffusion chambers total, we noted the highest number and size of TRAcP-positive cells, with quantifiable eroded bone surface and significant reduction of trabecular bone volume. These data demonstrate that our bio-device delivers effective sRANKL, inducing osteoclastogenesis in RANKL-deficient mice, supporting the feasibility of an innovative experimental strategy to treat systemic cytokine deficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Diffusion chambers
  • Osteoclast
  • Osteopetrosis
  • Receptor Activator of NF-κB Ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics


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