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Endocr Rev. 2010 Jun;31(3):266-300. doi: 10.1210/er.2009-0024. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

From estrogen-centric to aging and oxidative stress: a revised perspective of the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205-7199, USA.


Estrogen deficiency has been considered the seminal mechanism of osteoporosis in both women and men, but epidemiological evidence in humans and recent mechanistic studies in rodents indicate that aging and the associated increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) are the proximal culprits. ROS greatly influence the generation and survival of osteoclasts, osteoblasts, and osteocytes. Moreover, oxidative defense by the FoxO transcription factors is indispensable for skeletal homeostasis at any age. Loss of estrogens or androgens decreases defense against oxidative stress in bone, and this accounts for the increased bone resorption associated with the acute loss of these hormones. ROS-activated FoxOs in early mesenchymal progenitors also divert ss-catenin away from Wnt signaling, leading to decreased osteoblastogenesis. This latter mechanism may be implicated in the pathogenesis of type 1 and 2 diabetes and ROS-mediated adverse effects of diabetes on bone formation. Attenuation of Wnt signaling by the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma by ligands generated from lipid oxidation also contributes to the age-dependent decrease in bone formation, suggesting a mechanistic explanation for the link between atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Additionally, increased glucocorticoid production and sensitivity with advancing age decrease skeletal hydration and thereby increase skeletal fragility by attenuating the volume of the bone vasculature and interstitial fluid. This emerging evidence provides a paradigm shift from the "estrogen-centric" account of the pathogenesis of involutional osteoporosis to one in which age-related mechanisms intrinsic to bone and oxidative stress are protagonists and age-related changes in other organs and tissues, such as ovaries, accentuate them.

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