While androgens clearly have significant skeletal effects, the paracrine mediators of androgen action on bone are at present unclear. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a candidate cytokine that is produced by osteoblastic lineage cells and promotes osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. Here, we assessed constitutive as well as IL-1β- and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)- stimulated IL-6 mRNA expression by Northern analysis and protein secretion by immunoassay in a human androgen-responsive osteoblastic cell line (hFOB/AR-6) which contains ~4000 androgen receptors (ARs)/nucleus. Treatment with 5α- dihydrotestosterone (DHT) dose-dependently inhibited constitutive and TNF- α/IL-1β-stimulated IL-6 mRNA steady-state levels in hFOB/AR-6 cells by 70- 80% at 10-7 M. In addition, testosterone also suppressed TNF-α/IL-1β- stimulated IL-6 mRNA levels by 57%, while the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone had no effect. Of note, the specific AR antagonist, hydroxyflutamide, also inhibited IL-6 mRNA levels by 70%. Consistent with the Northern analyses, treatment with 5α-DHT, testosterone, and hydroxyflutamide also inhibited IL-6 protein production by 79%, 62%, and 71%, respectively (p < 0.001), while these agents had no effect on IL-6 soluble receptor levels. Finally, we demonstrated that hydroxyflutamide treatment of hFOB/AR-6 cells markedly inhibited the activation and binding of NF-κB (a known stimulator of IL-6 gene transcription) to its response element, thus providing a potential mechanism for its effect on IL-6 production by osteoblasts. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that suppression of osteoblast IL-6 production by androgens may mediate, at least in part, the antiresorptive effects of androgens on bone. Moreover, our findings also indicate that hydroxyflutamide, which is a known AR antagonist in most tissues, may function as a selective AR modulator for effects on IL-6 production by osteoblasts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine