Hypothermia inhibits osteoblast differentiation and bone formation but stimulates osteoclastogenesis

Jessal J Patel, Jennifer C Utting, Michelle L Key, Isabel R Orriss, Sarah E B Taylor, Philip Whatling, Timothy R Arnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


It has long been known that core body temperature declines with age, with temperatures of 35.5°C or below common in the elderly. However, the effects of temperature reduction on bone cell function and skeletal homeostasis have been little studied. We investigated the effects of mild hypothermia (35.5°C) and severe hypothermia (34°C) on bone-forming osteoblasts, and bone-resorbing osteoclasts. Formation of 'trabecular' bone structures by rat calvarial osteoblasts was reduced by 75% at 35.5°C and by 95% at 34°C after 14-16 days culture, compared to 37°C. In addition to reductions in osteoblast cell number, expression of mRNAs for Runx2, alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin and type I collagen were also down-regulated in hypothermia. In contrast, formation of osteoclasts in mononuclear cell cultures derived from mouse marrow, showed a 1.5 to 2-fold stimulation in hypothermia; resorption pit formation was similarly increased. Taken together, these data show that hypothermia exerts reciprocal effects on bone cell function by retarding osteoblast differentiation and bone formation, whilst increasing osteoclastogenesis and thus resorption. These results suggest the possibility that hypothermia in the elderly could potentially have a direct, negative impact on bone metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2237-44
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biomarkers/metabolism
  • Bone Resorption/etiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hypothermia
  • Osteoblasts/cytology
  • Osteoclasts/cytology
  • Osteogenesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skull/cytology


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