The mechanism of congenital osteopetrosis in microphthalmic (mi) mice has been examined in bone organ cultures. Resorption was measured by the release of previously incorporated 45Ca in fetal long bones and newborn calvaria from mi mice and heterozygous or homozygous normal litter mates. Bones from mi mice showed a generalized resorption defect with decreased spontaneous or control resorption and failure to respond to parathyroid hormone (PTH), prostaglandin E2, 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D3, vitamin A, or osteoclast activating factor (OAF) from human peripheral leukocytes or mouse spleen cells. Bones from heterozygotes showed a smaller response to PTH than bones from homozygous normals. Mutant bones failed to show an increase in lysosomal enzyme release in response to PTH or vitamin A, agents which increased release from bones of homozygous normals. Proline incorporation into collagenase-digestible protein was similar in cultures of normal and mutant bone and was inhibited by PTH and OAF. These results indicate that congenital osteopetrosis in mi mice is due to a generalized defect in the function and hormonal response of osteoclasts and suggests that this cell line is separate from the osteoblast cell line which shows no impairment of hormonal response.

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