Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(3):275-283. doi:10.7150/ijms.17860

Research Paper

Regulation of DMT1 on autophagy and apoptosis in osteoblast

Fei Liu, Wei-Lin Zhang, Hong-Zheng Meng, Zheng-Yu Cai, Mao-Wei Yang

Department of Orthopedics, the First Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China.

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Liu F, Zhang WL, Meng HZ, Cai ZY, Yang MW. Regulation of DMT1 on autophagy and apoptosis in osteoblast. Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(3):275-283. doi:10.7150/ijms.17860. Available from

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Iron overload has recently been associated with the changes in the bone microstructure that occur in osteoporosis. However, the effect of iron overload on osteoblasts is unclear. The purpose of this study was to explore the function of divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) in the pathological processes of osteoporosis. Osteoblast hFOB1.19 cells were cultured in medium supplemented with different concentrations (0, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 μmol/L) of ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) as a donor of ferric ions. We used western blotting and immunofluorescence to determine the levels of DMT1 after treatment with FAC. Apoptosis was evaluated by detecting the levels of cleaved caspase 3, BCL2, and BAX with western blotting. Autophagy was evaluated by detecting the levels of LC3 with western blotting and immunofluorescence. Beclin-1 expression was also assessed with western blotting. The autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine was used to determine whether autophagy affects the apoptosis induced by FAC. Our results show that FAC increased the levels of DMT1, upregulated the expression of BCL2, and downregulated the apoptosis-related proteins cleaved caspase 3 and BAX. Both LC3I/LC3II levels and beclin-1 were also increased, indicating that FAC increases the accumulation of autophagosomes in hFOB1.19 cells. FAC-induced autophagy was increased by the apoptosis inhibitor 3-MA but was reduced in DMT1 shRNA hFOB1.19 cells. These results suggest that the increased expression of DMT1 induces iron overload and iron overload induces osteoblast autophagy and apoptosis, thus affecting the pathological processes of osteoporosis. Clarifying the mechanisms underlying the effects of DMT1 will allow the identification of novel targets for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Keywords: divalent metal transporter 1, DMT1, osteoporosis, autophagy, apoptosis, osteoblast.