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Endocrinology. 2002 Sep;143(9):3658-70.

Estrogen receptor-related receptor alpha impinges on the estrogen axis in bone: potential function in osteoporosis.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.


The orphan nuclear estrogen receptor-related receptor alpha (ERRalpha) is expressed by osteoblastic cells and plays a functional role in osteoprogenitor proliferation and differentiation. To dissect further the role of ERRalpha in bone, we investigated the effects of estrogen (E2) on ERRalpha both in vitro and in vivo. Chronic treatment of fetal rat calvaria cells with E2-stimulated bone nodule formation and up-regulated ERRalpha mRNA expression at early (10 h and d 8) but not later times in culture, suggesting a link between ERRalpha and E2 during osteoprogenitor proliferation. ERRalpha mRNA levels were significantly lower in ovariectomized adult rat bones vs. those of sham-operated rats early (1 d and 1 wk) post surgery, but levels returned to control levels thereafter. ERRalpha is also expressed in osteoclasts (tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase + multinucleated cells) in vivo and in vitro (RAW 264.7 cells) and ovariectomization lowered the OPG/receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB ligand expression ratio. Down-regulation of ERRalpha expression via antisense treatment of rat calvaria cells not only inhibited osteogenesis but also increased adipocyte colony formation and changed the OPG/receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB ligand ratio. These data suggest that ERRalpha is regulated by estrogen in bone in which it may play a functional role at several levels (osteoblasts, adipocytes, and osteoclasts) in E2 deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis.

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