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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Feb;86(3):854-7.

Identification of androgen receptors in normal human osteoblast-like cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.


The sex steroids, androgens and estrogens, are major regulators of bone metabolism. However, whether these hormones act on bone cells through direct or indirect mechanisms has remained unclear. A nuclear binding assay recently used to demonstrate estrogen receptors in bone [Eriksen, E.F., Colvard, D.S., Berg, N.J., Graham, M.L., Mann, K.G., Spelsberg, T.C. & Riggs, B.L. (1988) Science 241, 84-86] was used to identify specific nuclear binding of a tritiated synthetic androgen, [3H]R1881 (methyltrienolone), in 21 of 25 (84%) human osteoblast-like cell strains and a concentration of bound steroid receptors of 821 +/- 140 (mean +/- SEM) molecules per cell nucleus. Binding was saturable and steroid-specific. Androgen receptor gene expression in osteoblasts was confirmed by RNA blot analysis. Relative concentrations of androgen and estrogen receptors were compared by measuring specific nuclear estrogen binding. Nuclear binding of [3H]estradiol was observed in 27 of 30 (90%) cell strains; the concentration of bound estradiol receptor was 1537 +/- 221 molecules per cell nucleus. The concentrations of nuclear binding sites were similar in males and females for both [3H]R1881 and [3H]estradiol. We conclude that both androgens and estrogens act directly on human bone cells through their respective receptor-mediated mechanisms.

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