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LC Hofbauer and AE Heufelder

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LC Hofbauer and AE Heufelder

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LC Hofbauer and S Khosla

Androgens have beneficial effects on skeletal development and maintenance in women and men. The detection and functional characterization of androgen receptors in bone cells has implicated bone tissue as a potential target tissue for androgens. Gonadal and adrenal androgens directly regulate various aspects of osteoblastic lineage cells, including proliferation, differentiation, mineralization, and gene expression. These effects may differ depending on the stage of differentiation, the number of androgen receptors, and other inherent characteristics (species, site, cell biology) of the osteoblastic cell system. In addition, recent studies have suggested that some of the anabolic and anti-resorptive effects of androgens on bone may be mediated by regulation of autocrine and paracrine factors in the bone microenvironment, including transforming growth factor-beta, insulin-like growth factors (and their binding proteins), and interleukin-6. This review summarizes the recent progress made in our knowledge of androgen receptor action, local androgen metabolism in bone, and direct and indirect effects of gonadal and adrenal androgens as well as androgen receptor antagonists on bone cells.

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LC Hofbauer, KC Hicok, D Chen and S Khosla

BACKGROUND: Estrogens and androgens have anti-resorptive effects on bone, although recent evidence indicates that, even in men, estrogen is the dominant sex steroid regulating bone resorption. The receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand is essential for osteoclastic bone resorption, and its effects are blocked by the decoy receptor, osteoprotegerin (OPG). While estrogen has been shown to induce osteoblastic OPG production, the effects of androgens on OPG production have not been defined. METHODS: In this study, we assessed the regulation of OPG by androgens in hFOB/AR-6, an immortalized fetal osteoblastic cell line stably transfected with the human androgen receptor (AR), and MSC cells, primary human pluripotent marrow stromal cells capable of differentiating towards mature osteoblasts. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: 5Alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) dose-dependently decreased OPG mRNA levels and protein concentrations in hFOB/AR-6 cells by up to 50 and 60% respectively (P<0.001). Inhibition of OPG mRNA levels and protein production by 5alpha-DHT was completely abrogated by the AR antagonist, hydroxyflutamide (OHF), indicating that these effects are directly mediated by the AR. Of note, OHF alone increased OPG mRNA levels and protein secretion by 2- to 3-fold. Moreover, 5alpha-DHT and testosterone also decreased OPG protein secretion by 40-46% in the untransformed MSC cells, while OHF stimulated it. In conclusion, we demonstrate that androgens specifically inhibit OPG mRNA levels and protein secretion by osteoblastic cells.