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N Andersson, MK Lindberg, C Ohlsson, K Andersson, and B Ryberg

The recent development of different genetically modified mice with potentially interesting bone phenotypes has increased the demand for effective non-invasive methods to evaluate effects on bone of mice during growth and development, and for drug evaluation. In the present study, the skeleton was analyzed by repeated in vivo scans using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Ovariectomized (ovx) mice treated with parathyroid hormone (PTH) were used as an animal model to evaluate these two techniques at different times after the onset of treatment. Female mice (6 weeks of age) were allocated randomly to four groups: (1) sham-operated+vehicle; (2) ovx+vehicle; (3) sham-operated+PTH(1-84) 150 microg/kg per day; (4) ovx+PTH. Six weeks after ovariectomy the drug treatment began and was continued for 8 weeks. The total body bone mineral content (BMC) and total body areal bone mineral density (BMD) were measured by DXA. Ovariectomy reduced total body BMC and total body areal BMD by 6.2+/-1.7% and 2.6+/-0.9% respectively. No effect of PTH on total body BMC was seen during the treatment period. The trabecular volumetric BMD was measured by pQCT. Ovariectomy reduced the trabecular volumetric BMD by 52+/-6.7%. The pQCT technique detected a clear effect on trabecular volumetric BMD after 2 weeks of PTH treatment (ovx 94+/-29% and sham-operated 46+/-10% more than vehicle-treated). The cortical bone was measured in a mid-diaphyseal pQCT scan of the tibia. Ovariectomy reduced the cortical BMC by 9+/-2%. PTH treatment for 8 weeks increased cortical BMC in ovx mice. In conclusion, the pQCT technique is more sensitive than the DXA technique in the detection of bone loss after ovariectomy and increased bone mass after PTH treatment in mice. Notably, the pQCT, but not the DXA, technique detected a dramatic effect as early as after 2 weeks of PTH treatment. Dynamic pQCT measurements will be useful for monitoring skeletal changes during growth and development, and for drug evaluation in mice.

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MC Erlandsson, CA Jonsson, MK Lindberg, C Ohlsson, and H Carlsten

Raloxifene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator approved for the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is selective by having estrogen-agonistic effects on bone, vessels and blood lipids while it is antagonistic on mammary and uterine tissue. Our aim was to study the agonistic and antagonistic properties of the raloxifene analogue LY117018 (LY) on uterus, bone, B lymphopoiesis and B cell function. Oophorectomized and sham-operated animals were treated with s.c. injections of equipotent anti-osteoporotic doses of 17beta-estradiol (E2) (0.1 mg/kg) or LY (3 mg/kg) or vehicle as controls. Effects on bone mineral density (BMD) were studied using peripheral quantitative computed tomography, uterine weight was examined, B lymphopoiesis was examined using flow cytometry and B cell function in bone marrow and spleen was studied by the use of an ELISPOT assay. E2 and LY had similar effects on BMD and bone marrow B lymphopoiesis, while LY had a clear antagonistic effect on endogenous estrogen in uterine tissue and no stimulating effect on the frequency of Ig-producing B cells in sham-operated animals. Our results are discussed in the context of estrogen receptor biology, relations between the immune system and bone metabolism and also with respect to the estrogen-mediated effects on rheumatic diseases.

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MK Lindberg, SL Alatalo, JM Halleen, S Mohan, JA Gustafsson, and C Ohlsson

There are two known estrogen receptors, estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha) and estrogen receptor-beta (ER beta), which may mediate the actions of estrogen. The aim of the present study was to compare fat content, skeletal growth and adult bone metabolism in female mice lacking ER alpha (ERKO), ER beta (BERKO) or both ERs (DERKO). We demonstrate that endogenous estrogens decrease the fat content in female mice via ER alpha and not ER beta. Interestingly, the longitudinal bone growth was decreased in ERKO, increased in BERKO, but was intermediate in DERKO females, demonstrating that ER alpha and ER beta exert opposing effects in the regulation of longitudinal bone growth. The effects on longitudinal bone growth were correlated with similar effects on serum levels of IGF-I. A complex regulation of the trabecular bone mineral density (BMD), probably caused by a disturbed feedback regulation of estrogen and testosterone, was observed in female ER-inactivated mice. Nevertheless, a partial functional redundancy for ER alpha and ER beta in the maintenance of the trabecular BMD was observed in the female mice at 60 days of age. Thus, ER alpha and ER beta may have separate effects (regulation of fat), opposing effects (longitudinal bone growth) or partial redundant effects (trabecular BMD at 60 days of age), depending on which parameter is studied.

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MK Lindberg, M Erlandsson, SL Alatalo, S Windahl, G Andersson, JM Halleen, H Carlsten, JA Gustafsson, and C Ohlsson

Estrogens are important for the male skeleton. Osteoprotegerin (OPG), receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand (RANKL), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-1 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) have been suggested to be involved in the skeletal effects of estrogen. We treated orchidectomized mice with estradiol for 2 weeks and observed a 143% increase in the trabecular bone mineral density of the distal metaphysis of femur that was associated with a decreased OPG/RANKL mRNA ratio in vertebral bone. A similar decreased OPG/RANKL ratio was also seen after estrogen treatment of ovariectomized female mice. The effect of estrogen receptor (ER) inactivation on the OPG/RANKL ratio was dissected by using intact male mice lacking ER alpha (ERKO), ER beta (BERKO) or both receptors (DERKO). The expression of OPG was increased in ERKO and DERKO but not in BERKO male mice, resulting in an increased OPG/RANKL ratio. Furthermore, serum levels of IL-6 and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRAP 5b) were decreased in ERKO and DERKO, but not in BERKO male mice. These results demonstrate that ER alpha, but not ER beta, is involved in the regulation of the vertebral OPG/RANKL ratio, serum levels of IL-6 and TRAP 5b in male mice.

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MK Lindberg, Z Weihua, N Andersson, S Moverare, H Gao, O Vidal, M Erlandsson, S Windahl, G Andersson, DB Lubahn, H Carlsten, K Dahlman-Wright, JA Gustafsson, and C Ohlsson

Estrogen exerts a variety of important physiological effects, which have been suggested to be mediated via the two known estrogen receptors (ERs), alpha and beta. Three-month-old ovariectomized mice, lacking one or both of the two estrogen receptors, were given estrogen subcutaneously (2.3 micro g/mouse per day) and the effects on different estrogen-responsive parameters, including skeletal effects, were studied. We found that estrogen increased the cortical bone dimensions in both wild-type (WT) and double ER knockout (DERKO) mice. DNA microarray analysis was performed to characterize this effect on cortical bone and it identified four genes that were regulated by estrogen in both WT and DERKO mice. The effect of estrogen on cortical bone in DERKO mice might either be due to remaining ERalpha activity or represent an ERalpha/ERbeta-independent effect. Other effects of estrogen, such as increased trabecular bone mineral density, thymic atrophy, fat reduction and increased uterine weight, were mainly ERalpha mediated.