Estrogens, cartilage, and osteoarthritis

Joint Bone Spine. 2003 Aug;70(4):257-62. doi: 10.1016/s1297-319x(03)00067-8.


A role for estrogens in osteoarthritis is consistent with the larger increases in women than in men in the incidence and prevalence of hip, knee, and finger osteoarthritis after 50 years of age. Furthermore, hormone replacement therapy for the menopause seems to be associated with a decrease in the prevalence of symptoms and radiological alterations related to hip and knee osteoarthritis. The two estrogen receptors alpha and beta (ERalpha and Erbeta) have been identified in normal and osteoarthritic cartilage, indicating that cartilage can respond to estrogens. Finally, in vivo experiments in animals and in vitro studies have shed light on the mechanisms by which estrogens may influence chondrocyte metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / drug effects
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / chemically induced
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Sex Factors


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen