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Bone. 1994 May-Jun;15(3):307-11.

A comparison of the action of progestins and estrogen on the growth and differentiation of normal adult human osteoblast-like cells in vitro.

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University Hospital of Utrecht, Department of Geriatrics, The Netherlands.


Estrogen/gestagen replacement therapy prevents excess bone loss in postmenopausal women. The mode of action by which these sex steroids exert their anabolic effects on bone has not been completely clarified yet. In this study, 17 beta-estradiol (E2), as well as progestins progesterone (P), dydrogesterone (DD), 20 alpha-dihydroxydydrogesterone (DHD), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), and cyproterone acetate (CPA) were able to stimulate the mitogenesis and differentiation of normal adult human osteoblast-like (HOB) cells harvested from female trabecular bone explants. The different progestins exerted a more pronounced stimulatory effect on HOB proliferation than E2 did. The combination of E2 with P, DD, or DHD did not result in a statistically significant further increase of HOB proliferation, as compared with the progestins alone. In general, E2 showed a stronger differentiation-inducing effect than the progestins, as measured by histochemical staining of the HOB cells for alkaline phosphatase activity. Combining E2 and the progestins did not result in a further increase of the number of alkaline phosphatase positive cells, compared with E2 alone. The different progestins proved to be equally potent in stimulating HOB proliferation and differentiation. In conclusion, progestins as well as E2 exerted anabolic but differential effects on normal adult human osteoblasts in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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