Dynamic bone histomorphometry, [3H]thymidine radioautography, and Northern analysis for bone matrix proteins and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) were performed in calvariae of ovariectomized (OVX) and estrogen-treated OVX rats. Treatment of OVX rats with diethylstilbestrol (DES) for 2 weeks reduced the periosteal mineral apposition rate, osteoblast number, and osteoblast size in calvarial periosteum. DES treatment also reduced the number of preosteoblasts in the S phase of the cell cycle, suggesting that the decrease in osteoblast number was due in part to inhibition of proliferation of osteoprogenitor cells. One week after ovariectomy, there were small increases in mRNA levels for pre pro+2 (I) subunit of type I collagen (collagen), ostcocaltin, and osteonectin and a large increase in the mRNA level for IGF-I. DES treatment resulted in rapid decreases (3 h) in the mRNA levels for osteonectin, osteocalcin, and IGF-I. In contrast, mRNA levels for collagen were virtually unchanged after short term DES treatment. Uterus and liver served as positive and negative control tissues, respectively, for the effects of DES on IGF-I mRNA levels in OVX rats; mRNA levels were increased in uterus and decreased in liver after hormone treatment. We conclude from these studies that estrogen reduces periosteal bone formation by inhibiting both the differentiation and activity of osteoblasts. Furthermore, down-regulation of mRNA levels for IGF-I and bone matrix proteins precedes the changes in dynamic bone histomorphometry.
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