Role of bone-associated macrophages in bone remodelling and bone disease (2007–2009)
Musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, are a national and international health and research priorities. Over 3 million Australians suffer from arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and their social and economic impact is expected to dramatically increase in the next 20 years as a result of the aging population. Early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of many musculoskeletal diseases are currently inadequate. Consequently, there is a high demand for effective treatment options. This project grant application proposes a novel line of scientific investigation that will provide greater understanding of the contribution of macrophages (a cell type that has important roles in normal tissue maintenance and defense against infection) in bone remodelling and disease. Bone is continuously remodelled and replaced to maintain skeletal strength and mineral metabolism. We have shown that a population of macrophages is intimately associated with bone and propose that these cells play an important part in regulating bone remodelling. Macrophages have been implicated in many diseases that have damaging consequences on bone, including osteoporosis and several forms of arthritis, linking aberrant macrophage function to disease-associated bone damage. This project aims to characterize this population of bone-associated macrophages and determine their ability to influence the function of other cells integrally involved in bone remodelling. We will also undertake studies in animal models to determine whether these cells are required for bone remodelling and/or damage. Detailed description of the novel role of macrophages in bone biology will facilitate the development of superior therapeutics, preventatives and cures for bone diseases.