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Bone. 2008 Jul;43(1):92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2008.02.017. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Estrogen deficiency increases osteoclastogenesis up-regulating T cells activity: a key mechanism in osteoporosis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Torino, Italy. patrizia.damelio@unito.it


Compelling evidences suggest that increased production of osteoclastogenic cytokines by activated T cells plays a relevant role in the bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency in the mouse. However, little information is available on the role of T cells in post-menopausal bone loss in humans. To investigate this issue we have assessed the production of cytokines involved in osteoclastogenesis (RANKL, TNFalpha and OPG), in vitro osteoclast (OC) formation in pre and post-menopausal women, the latter with or without osteoporosis. We evaluated also OC precursors in peripheral blood and the ability of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to produce TNFalpha in both basal and stimulated condition by flow cytometry in these subjects. Our data demonstrate that estrogen deficiency enhances the production of the pro-osteoclastogenetic cytokines TNFalpha and RANKL and increases the number of circulating OC precursors. Furthermore, we show that T cells and monocytes from women with osteoporosis exhibit a higher production of TNFalpha than those from the other two groups. Our findings suggest that estrogen deficiency stimulates OC formation both by increasing the production of TNFalpha and RANKL and increasing the number of OC precursors. Women with post-menopausal osteoporosis have a higher T cell activity than healthy post-menopausal subjects; T cells thus contribute to the bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency in humans as they do in the mouse.

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