Fluoride Action Network


Fluoride is an acknowledged bone anabolic agent. Nevertheless, a narrow therapeutic window and the adverse effects at higher therapeutic doses prevent broad clinical application of fluoride for treatment of diseases of bone loss, such as osteoporosis. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of fluoride action are poorly understood. Recent advances in the elucidation of signal transduction pathways induced by fluoride in osteoblastic cells are reviewed. Fluoride and traces of aluminum form a complex, fluoroaluminate, which stimulates cellular heterotrimeric G proteins. Such complex can form in food, drinking water and in the organism after administration of sodium fluoride. Fluoroaluminate crosses the cell membrane and directly binds to the membrane-associated inactive G alpha protein subunits. Within the G alpha subunit, fluoroaluminate occupies the position next to GDP. The resulting G alpha-GDP-AlF4- complex assumes an active state conformation, which resembles that of G alpha-GTP complex. Under physiological conditions, G alpha-GTP complex is formed upon activation of seven transmembrane receptors that couple to heterotrimeric G proteins. Both fluoroaluminate-activated and receptor-activated G alpha subunits are capable of transmitting intracellular signals that lead to cellular responses. In bone-forming cells osteoblasts, fluoroaluminate stimulates pertussis toxin-sensitive G alpha i proteins. G alpha i activation leads to the reduction in cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) levels and to the activation of mitogen activated protein kinases, Erks (extracellular signal-regulated kinases) and p70 S6 kinase. These kinases are involved in the regulation of gene transcription and protein syntheses. Fluoroaluminate also stimulates pertussis toxin-insensitive proteins. Pertussis toxin-insensitive G proteins, most likely from G alpha 12 class, cause the activation of several cytoplasmic protein tyrosine kinases [Src, Pyk2 (proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2), and Fak (focal adhesion kinase)]. Activation of Erks can lead to osteoblast proliferation and differentiation, while activation of Src, Pyk2 and Fak can modulate the adhesion properties of osteoblasts. Osteoblast adhesion may, in turn, influence differentiation, migration, and apoptosis of these cells. The susceptibility of osteoblasts to fluoroaluminate can be achieved by their specific cellular context and by the rigidity of the surrounding bone tissue. In particular, higher levels of G alpha i proteins and of certain focal adhesion proteins are expressed by osteoblastic rather than by fibroblastic cells. The rigidity of adhesion substratum of osteoblasts may signal on its own and potentiate the signaling by fluoroaluminate. The information on mechanisms of intracellular signaling by fluoroaluminate can be utilized to identify a fluoroaluminate mimic, a drug that exhibits anabolic action on bone with a broader therapeutic range and less adverse effects than fluoride.