Deletion of estrogen receptors reveals a regulatory role for estrogen receptors-beta in bone remodeling in females but not in males

Bone. 2002 Jan;30(1):18-25. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(01)00643-3.


To determine the contributions of estrogen receptor (ER)alpha and ERbeta in bone growth and remodeling in male and female mice, we generated and analyzed full knockouts for each receptor, and a double ER knockout. Although suppression of the ligand to the ERs (i.e., estradiol) after menopause or gonadectomy in females led to a catastrophic increase in bone turnover and concomitant bone loss, deletion of one or both ERs failed to show such an effect. Complete deletion of ERalpha led to a decrease, not an increase, in bone turnover and an increase, not a decrease, in trabecular bone volume in both male and female animals. Deletion of ERbeta led to different responses in males, where bone was unaffected, and in females, where bone resorption was decreased and trabecular bone volume increased. In contrast, deletion of both ERs led to a profound decrease in trabecular bone volume in females, which was associated with a decrease, not an increase, in bone turnover. Finally, deletion of ERalpha, but not ERbeta, led to major changes in circulating levels of estradiol and/or testosterone, indirectly affecting bone remodeling and bone mass. Thus, only ERalpha was shown to regulate bone remodeling in males, whereas in females both receptor subtypes influenced this process and could, at least under basal knockout conditions, compensate for each other.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Development / physiology
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Estrogen / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol