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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Dec 6;299(3):446-54.

Estrogens (E2) regulate expression and response of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 receptors in bone cells: changes with aging and hormone deprivation.

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Calcium Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, McGill University, Que., Montreal, Canada.


Studies on the effect of estrogens (E(2)) on the expression of vitamin D receptor (VDR) and its bioresponse in bone have demonstrated that E(2) modulate activity and increase the number of VDRs in vitro; however, no in vivo studies have been pursued to assess this interaction. Our study identifies the changes in the number of VDR-expressing cells in bone of C57BL/6J young and old oophorectomized mice (4 and 24 months) with and without 17beta estradiol (E(2)) replacement. A total of 36 mice were sacrificed; both tibiae and femora were isolated and VDR expression was quantified by Northern blot, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and flow cytometry. Among the intact mice there was a significant difference in the number of VDR-expressing osteoblasts between young (68%) and old (56%) (p<0.04). In young oophorectomized mice the number of VDR-expressing osteoblasts decreased from 68% to 46% after oophorectomy and recovered to 72% after E(2) administration (p<0.02), while in the group of old mice, the number of VDR-expressing osteoblasts decreased from 56% to 48% after oophorectomy (p<0.01) and recovered to 85% after E(2) administration (p<0.001). Our results show that VDR expression in bone decreases with aging and estrogen deprivation but recovers after E(2) supplementation in both young and old mice with a more significant level of response in older bone. To evaluate the level of VDR bioresponse to E(2) we assessed the effect of E(2) supplementation to human osteoblasts (N-976) in vitro. Northern blot showed a significant up-regulation of VDR expression in E(2) treated cells as compared to non-treated cells (p<0.05). We also assessed the previously known anti-apoptotic effect of vitamin D in osteoblasts in vitro after serum deprivation by using either E(2), E(2)+1,25(OH)(2)D(3), or 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) alone. We found a lower number of apoptotic cells and longer cell survival after 48 h of treatment with 1,25(OH)(2)D(3)+E(2) as compared to 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) or E(2) alone (p<0.002). In summary, our results demonstrate that E(2) increases VDR expression in bone in vivo and potentiate the bioresponse of VDR in osteoblasts in vitro.

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