Estrogen receptors in skeletal metabolism: Lessons from genetically modified models of receptor function

McCauley L., Tozum T., Rosol T.

CRITICAL REVIEWS IN EUKARYOTIC GENE EXPRESSION, vol.12, no.2, pp.89-100, 2002 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Estrogens have long been known to be important for skeletal homeostasis, but their precise mechanisms of action in bone are still unclear. Mice with targeted deletions of the estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta) have been generated by two research groups and several studies performed characterizing the phenotype of ERalpha knockout (ERKOalpha), ERbeta knockout (ERKObeta), or double deletion of ERalpha and ERbeta (DERKO) mice. Initial studies reported a reduction in bone mineral density in male ERKOalpha mice. More extensive analyses have been puzzling, likely because of compensatory mechanisms in ERKO mice. Furthermore, the existence of a third ER continues to be a potential explanation for some actions of estrogen in bone. Other rodent models, including the testicular feminized mouse and rat, the aromatase knockout mouse, and a rat with a dominant negative ER mutation, have added information regarding estrogen's actions in bone. This review summarizes many reports characterizing available rodent models with genetic alterations relevant to estrogen action. The sum of these reports suggests that the ERbeta is not highly protective in bone because loss of its function results in minimal alterations in the skeleton. Furthermore, loss of both the ERalpha and the ERbeta does not account for loss of estrogen action in bone, because the impact of DERKO is seemingly not as great as the impact of gonadectomy on the skeleton. Finally, through studies of ERKO mice and other rodent models of altered sex steroid action, it appears that estrogen may be more protective in the skeleton than androgens.