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J Clin Invest. 2003 May;111(9):1319-27.

A functional androgen receptor is not sufficient to allow estradiol to protect bone after gonadectomy in estradiol receptor-deficient mice.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8044, USA.


Although the role of estradiol in maintaining bone mass is well established, the relative contributions of the estradiol receptors ERalpha and ERbeta and of the androgen receptor (AR) remain controversial. To determine the role of ERalpha-mediated, ERbeta-mediated, and non-ER-mediated mechanisms in maintaining bone mass, gonadectomy and estradiol treatment were studied in ER-knockout mice. Estradiol treatment of ovariectomized ERalphabeta(-/-) mice failed to prevent bone loss, precluding significant effects of estradiol on bone through non-ER-signaling pathways. In contrast, estradiol prevented ovariectomy-induced bone loss in ERbeta(-/-) mice, as in WT males and females, indicating that ERalpha is the major mediator of estradiol effects in bone. No response of bone to estradiol was detected in orchidectomized ERalpha(-/-) mice, suggesting estradiol cannot protect bone mass via the AR in vivo. In contrast to female ERalphabeta(-/-) and male ERalpha(-/-) mice, female ERalpha(-/-) mice were partially protected against ovariectomy-induced bone loss by estradiol, confirming that ERbeta mediates estradiol effects in bone, but only in females and with a lower efficacy than ERalpha. We conclude that ERalpha is the main effector of estradiol's protective function in bone in both male and female mice, and that, in its absence, AR is not sufficient to mediate this response.

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