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Physiol Behav. 2010 Feb 9;99(2):181-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.04.025. Epub 2009 May 5.

Estrogen regulation of apoptosis in osteoblasts.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214-3000, USA.


Dysregulated apoptosis is a critical failure associated with prominent degenerative diseases including osteoporosis. In bone, estrogen deficiency has been associated with accelerated osteoblast apoptosis and susceptibility to osteoporotic fractures. Hormone therapy continues to be an effective option for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures. Induction of apoptosis in G-292 human osteoblastic cells by exposure to etoposide or the inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha promoted acute caspase-3/7 activity and this increased activity was inhibited by pretreatment with estradiol. Etoposide also increased the expression of a battery of apoptosis-promoting genes and this expression was also inhibited by estradiol. Among the apoptotic genes whose expression was inhibited by estradiol was ITPR1, which encodes the type 1 InsP3R. InsP3Rs are intracellular calcium channels and key proapoptotic mediators. Estradiol via estrogen receptor beta1 suppresses ITPR1 gene transcription in G-292 cells. These analyses suggest that an underlying basis of the beneficial activity of estrogens in combating osteoporosis may involve the prevention of apoptosis in osteoblasts and that a key event in this process is the repression of apoptotic gene expression and inhibition of caspase-3/7.

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