The cellular mechanisms involved in the accelerated bone loss occurring in association with estrogen deprivation as seen following the menopause are not fully understood. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is the local regulator of osteoblasts and one of its binding proteins, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-4 (IGFBP-4), binds to IGF-I and suppresses biological activity. Previous studies have shown that the binding activity of IGFBP-4 in the conditioned medium of parathyroid hormone (PTH)-treated SaOS-2 osteoblastic-like cells is enhanced twofold and that this PTH-enhanced IGFBP-4 binding activity is abolished by 17β-estradiol. Levels of IGFBP-4 in the conditioned medium have been reported to be regulated not only at the level of production but also at the level of degradation which is catalyzed by a protease that specifically cleaves IGFBP-4. We have, therefore, studied the effects of 17β-estradiol and PTH on IGFBP-4 protease activity using SaOS-2 cells. SaOS-2 cells produce a protease that specifically cleaves IGFBP-4 into two fragments of approximately 18 and 14 kilodaltons. IGFBP-4 protease activity in the conditioned medium from PTH-treated cells was suppressed, while this PTH-induced suppression of protease activity was reversed by the addition of 17β-estradiol to the cultures. IGFBP-4 proteolytic activity was stimulated by IGF-I or IGF-II added exogenously and was inhibited by EDTA or protease inhibitors. IGFBP-4 proteolyzed in the conditioned medium from cells treated with PTH and 17β-estradiol was less effective at inhibiting IGF-I-stimulated [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA compared with that proteolyzed in the conditioned medium from PTH-treated cells. The simplest explanation is that 17β-estradiol suppressed the inhibitory effect of PTH on osteoblastic activity by inhibiting the PTH-induced suppression of IGFBP-4 protease activity.
Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 150, 223–229