Severe deficiency of osteoclasts, monocytes, and peritoneal macrophages in osteopetrotic (op/op) mutant mice is caused by the absence of functional macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). To clarify the role of M-CSF in the osteoclast differentiation, we established a clonal stromal cell line OP6L7 capable of supporting hemopoiesis from newborn op/op mouse calvaria. Although very few macrophages appeared in the cocultures of bone marrow cells and OP6L7 cells, a 50-fold larger number of macrophages was detected in the day 7 cocultures when purified recombinant human M-CSF (rhM-CSF) was exogenously supplied. Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRACP; a marker enzyme of osteoclasts)-positive cells appeared only when bone marrow cells were cultured in contact with OP6L7 cells and both rhM-CSF and 1 alpha, 25 (OH)2D3 were added. The TRACP-positive cells became multinucleated with increasing time in culture and expressed the c-fms/M-CSF receptor. These results indicate that both contact with stromal cells and M-CSF are requisite for osteoclast differentiation under physiological conditions.

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