GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology


Cell Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Sandy C. Marks, Jr.


Osteopetrosis, Bone Resorption, Tooth Eruption, Rats, Mutant Strains


Osteopetrosis is a metabolic bone disease in mammals characterized by a generalized skeletal sclerosis caused by reduced bone resorption. This reduced bone resorption is manifested in afflicted animals by abnormal bone shape, reduced or absent marrow cavities, extramedullary hemopoiesis, abnormal mineral homeostasis and absent or delayed tooth eruption. The available osteopetrotic animal mutations have been a constant source of fruitful investigations concerning the systemic regulation of osteoclastogenesis and bone metabolism. Tooth eruption, on the other hand, is a localized manifestation of the timely activation of bone resorption and bone formation on opposite sides of an erupting tooth. Its rate-limiting step is the speed of bone resorption to form the eruption pathway. In this dissertation, we used two osteopetrotic rat mutations, toothless (tl) and microphthalmia blanc (mib), to investigate the abnormal development of osteoclasts and tooth eruption in mutant rats with an emphasis on the role of systemic and local factors. The significant contributions to this work are listed below.

1. In the toothless rat, a mutation lacking erupted dentition due to severely reduced bone resorption, colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) promoted tooth eruption but this was delayed compared to normal rats. Eruption was accompanied by changes in the populations of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive (TRAP+) mononuclear cells in the dental follicle and TRAP+ osteoclasts on adjacent alveolar bone surfaces. These cell populations were dramatically increased in treated mutants compared to untreated tl rats, but the timing of their appearance was delayed compared to normal littermates. This lag in the appearance of osteoclasts and their precursors corresponded to the delay in eruption of first molars in treated tl rats.

2. CSF-1 also accelerated the eruption of molars in normal rats. CSF-1 increased the number of TRAP+ mononuclear cells in the dental follicle and TRAP+ osteoclasts on adjacent alveolar bone surfaces, but had no effect on the timing of their appearance in normal rats.

3. Our data revealed a differential effect on tooth eruption of the growth factors CSF-1 and epidermal growth factor (EGF). CSF-1 accelerated eruption of molars in normal rats, but had no effect on incisor eruption. On the other hand, EGF accelerated incisor eruption; but did not affect molar eruption in normal rats.

4. We have described the mechanism for the transient, mild form of osteopetrosis inherited by mib rats. Mutant animals possess a typical sclerosis at birth, which diminished--but was not resolved--during the first postnatal month. These characteristics are caused by early reductions in osteoclast number and function which improve to normal levels by 4 weeks. Osteoclast numbers were severely reduced in mib rats between birth and 2 weeks, but improved to near normal levels by 4 weeks. Neonatal abnormalities in osteoclast function included reduced staining for the functional enzymes TRAP and TrATPase, decreased levels of mRNA for both TrATPase and CAll, and inability to form a well-developed ruffled border. None of these defects were apparent after the first postnatal month.

5. Finally, we have shown that the dental abnormalities caused by the mild, transient form of osteopetrosis in mib rats are limited to incisor defects and delayed eruption of all teeth. Histologic and radiographic examination of mutant incisors revealed that, contrary to the situation in normal rats, the apex of the incisors of mib rats failed to extend past the first molar region to the third molar. The incisor apex of newborn mib rats was misshaped due to ankylosis of incisor matrices with alveolar bone. This ankylosis was temporary, being resolved by the third postnatal day. The delayed eruption of incisors in mib rats and abnormal shape and occlusion of these teeth in older animals is a consequence of the temporary ankylosis in newborn rats.


Some images did not scan well. Please consult original document. Original document lacks leaf 183 and following, as cited in table of contents ("Literature Cited").



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