Send to

Choose Destination
Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12(3):R101. doi: 10.1186/ar3032. Epub 2010 May 24.

Suppression of the inflammatory response in experimental arthritis is mediated via estrogen receptor alpha but not estrogen receptor beta.

Author information

Schering-Plough Research Institute, PO box 20, 5340 BH Oss, The Netherlands.



The immune modulatory role of estrogens in inflammation is complex. Both pro- and anti-inflammatory effects of estrogens have been described. Estrogens bind both estrogen receptor (ER)alpha and beta. The contribution of ERalpha and ERbeta to ER-mediated immune modulation was studied in delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) and in experimental arthritis


ER-mediated suppression of rat adjuvant arthritis (AA) was studied using ethinyl-estradiol (EE) and a selective ERbeta agonist (ERB-79). Arthritis was followed for 2 weeks. Next, effects of ER agonists (ethinyl-estradiol, an ERalpha selective agonist (ERA-63) and a selective ERbeta agonist (ERB-79) on the development of a tetanus toxoid (TT)-specific delayed type hypersensitivity response in wild type (WT) and in ERalpha- or ERbeta-deficient mice were investigated. Finally, EE and ERA-63 were tested for their immune modulating potential in established collagen induced arthritis in DBA/1J mice. Arthritis was followed for three weeks. Joint pathology was examined by histology and radiology. Local synovial cytokine production was analyzed using Luminex technology. Sera were assessed for COMP as a biomarker of cartilage destruction.


EE was found to suppress clinical signs and symptoms in rat AA. The selective ERbeta agonist ERB-79 had no effect on arthritis symptoms in this model. In the TT-specific DTH model, EE and the selective ERalpha agonist ERA-63 suppressed the TT-specific swelling response in WT and ERbetaKO mice but not in ERalphaKO mice. As seen in the AA model, the selective ERbeta agonist ERB-79 did not suppress inflammation. Treatment with EE or ERA-63 suppressed clinical signs in collagen induced arthritis (CIA) in WT mice. This was associated with reduced inflammatory infiltrates and decreased levels of proinflammatory cytokines in CIA joints.


ERalpha, but not ERbeta, is key in ER-mediated suppression of experimental arthritis. It remains to be investigated how these findings translate to human autoimmune disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center