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Cell. 2007 Sep 7;130(5):811-23.

Estrogen prevents bone loss via estrogen receptor alpha and induction of Fas ligand in osteoclasts.

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Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.


Estrogen prevents osteoporotic bone loss by attenuating bone resorption; however, the molecular basis for this is unknown. Here, we report a critical role for the osteoclastic estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) in mediating estrogen-dependent bone maintenance in female mice. We selectively ablated ERalpha in differentiated osteoclasts (ERalpha(DeltaOc/DeltaOc)) and found that ERalpha(DeltaOc/DeltaOc) females, but not males, exhibited trabecular bone loss, similar to the osteoporotic bone phenotype in postmenopausal women. Further, we show that estrogen induced apoptosis and upregulation of Fas ligand (FasL) expression in osteoclasts of the trabecular bones of WT but not ERalpha(DeltaOc/DeltaOc) mice. The expression of ERalpha was also required for the induction of apoptosis by tamoxifen and estrogen in cultured osteoclasts. Our results support a model in which estrogen regulates the life span of mature osteoclasts via the induction of the Fas/FasL system, thereby providing an explanation for the osteoprotective function of estrogen as well as SERMs.

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