For many bone and joint diseases in humans, including postmenopausal osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, an immune-mediated etiology has either been proven or is considered as a co-factor in pathogenesis. The identification of the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK)/RANK ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG)-interplay and the in-depth characterization of the signaling pathways induced upon RANK activation, including molecules such as TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and signal transducer and activator of T cells (STAT)-3, now promise to give the opportunity to target osteoclastogenesis specifically. Additionally, many byways influencing osteoclastogenesis have been elucidated, thus giving rise to additional therapeutic approaches. These are based mainly upon the effects of diverse cytokines on osteoclast differentiation with interleukin (IL)- 17 and interferone (IFN)-γ being most prominent at the moment. The same applies for the recently established signaling pathways in osteoblastogenesis, which have attracted much attention in the recent years. In this respect, much attention has been attributed towards bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and the Wnt signaling cascade. In this review, an overview on the key molecules, which (could) serve as promising targets for novel therapeutic interventions with the aim of enhancing osteoblast formation or suppressing osteoclast development, is given. Further on, antibody-based therapeutical schemes as well as methodologically novel, albeit predominantly theoretical at the moment, strategies in the fight against immune-mediated osteopathologies are discussed.
Keywords: Osteoimmunology, osteoclast, osteoblast, RANKL, Wnt, BMP, IL-17
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