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J Bone Miner Res. 2001 Jan;16(1):128-34.

Estrogen receptor alpha gene polymorphisms and bone mineral density: haplotype analysis in women from the United Kingdom.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen Medical School, UK.


Genetic factors are important in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis and the estrogen receptor has been suggested as a possible candidate gene for regulation of bone mineral density (BMD). We investigated the relationship between PvuII, XbaI, and dinucleotide (TA)n repeat polymorphisms of the estrogen receptor alpha (ER-alpha) gene and BMD in a study of women from northeast Scotland in the United Kingdom. No significant association was observed between BMD values at the lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN) in relation to PvuII and XbaI polymorphisms individually, but haplotype analysis showed that BMD values (Z score) were significantly lower in those who carried the Px haplotype (n = 36) compared with those who did not (n = 170) at both the LS (mean +/- SEM; -0.775 +/- 0.125 vs. -0.285 +/- 0.082;p = 0.002) and the FN (-0.888 +/- 0.130 vs. -0.335 +/- 0.083; p = 0.0006). In keeping with this, the Px haplotype also was found to be an independent predictor of LS BMD (p = 0.019) and FN BMD (p = 0.005) in a multiple regression analysis model that included other possible predictors of BMD including age, years since menopause (YSM), hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) use, weight, and height. This model explained 15.7% and 23.4% of the total observed variance in LS and FN BMD, respectively, with the Px haplotype accounting for approximately 3% of the variance at both sites. Although the TA repeat polymorphism was in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the PvuII (chi2 = 109.8; p < 0.0001) and XbaI (chi2 = 97.2; p < 0.0001) polymorphisms, there was no overall association between TA repeat number and BMD. We conclude that polymorphisms of the ER-alpha gene are significantly related to BMD in our population and that this association is dependent on the Px haplotype, suggesting that it is the Px haplotype, or a linked polymorphism, that confers risk.

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