Evidence for involvement of 17beta-estradiol in intestinal calcium absorption independent of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 level in the Rat

J Bone Miner Res. 1999 Jan;14(1):57-64. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.1999.14.1.57.


The sex steroid 17beta-estradiol (17beta-E2) has a broad range of actions, including effects on calcium and bone metabolism. This study with 3-month-old Brown Norway rats was designed to investigate the role of 17beta-E2 in the regulation of calcium homeostasis. Rats were divided in four groups, sham-operated, ovariectomized (OVX), and OVX supplemented with either a 0.025-mg or 0.05-mg 17beta-E2 pellet implanted subcutaneously. After 4 weeks, in none of the groups was serum calcium, phosphate, or parathyroid hormone altered compared with the sham group, while only in the OVX rats was a significant reduction in urinary calcium found. Bone mineral density and osteocalcin were modified, as can be expected after OVX and 17beta-E2 supplementation. OVX resulted in a nonsignificant increase in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3). Supplementation with either one of the 17beta-E2 dosages resulted in an 80% reduction of 1,25(OH)2D3 and only a 20% reduction in 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels. OVX, as well as supplementation with 17beta-E2, did not affect serum levels of vitamin D binding protein. As a consequence, the estimated free 1,25(OH)2D3 levels were also significantly decreased in the 17beta-E2-supplemented group compared with the sham and OVX groups. Next, the consequences for intestinal calcium absorption were analyzed by the in situ intestinal loop technique. Although the 1,25(OH)2D3 serum level was increased, OVX resulted in a significant decrease in intestinal calcium absorption in the duodenum. Despite the strongly reduced 1,25(OH)2D3 levels (18. 1 +/- 2.1 and 16.4 +/- 2.2 pmol/l compared with 143.5 +/- 29 pmol/l for the OVX group), the OVX-induced decrease in calcium absorption could partially be restored by supplementation with either 0.025 mg or 0.05 mg of 17beta-E2. None of the treatments resulted in a significant change in calcium handling in the jejunum, although the trends were similar as those observed in the duodenum. 17beta-E2 did not change the VDR levels in both the intestine and the kidney. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that 17beta-E2 is positively involved in intestinal calcium absorption, and the data strengthen the assertion that 17beta-E2 exerts this effect independent of 1,25(OH)2D3. In general, 17beta-E2 not only affects bone turnover but also calcium homeostasis via an effect on intestinal calcium absorption. (J Bone Miner Res 1999;14:57-64)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calbindins
  • Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BN
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism


  • Calbindins
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • Estradiol
  • Calcitriol
  • Calcium