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The bone-sparing effect of estrogen is primarily mediated via estrogen receptor (ER) α, which stimulates target gene transcription through two activation functions (AFs), AF-1 in the N-terminal and AF-2 in the ligand-binding domain. It was recently demonstrated that the ER antagonist ICI 182,780 (ICI) acts as an ER agonist in uterus of mice with mutations in the ERα AF-2. To evaluate the estrogen-like effects of ICI in different tissues, ovariectomized wild-type mice and mice with mutations in the ERα AF-2 (ERαAF-2(0)) were treated with ICI, estradiol, or vehicle for 3 wk. Estradiol increased the trabecular and cortical bone mass as well as the uterine weight, whereas it reduced fat mass, thymus weight, and the growth plate height in wild-type but not in ERαAF-2(0) mice. Although ICI had no effect in wild-type mice, it exerted tissue-specific effects in ERαAF-2(0) mice. It acted as an ERα agonist on trabecular bone mass and uterine weight, whereas no effect was seen on cortical bone mass, fat mass, or thymus weight. Surprisingly, a pronounced inverse agonistic activity was seen on the growth plate height, resulting in enhanced longitudinal bone growth. In conclusion, ICI uses ERα AF-1 in a tissue-dependent manner in mice lacking ERαAF-2, resulting in no effect, agonistic activity, or inverse agonistic activity. We propose that ERα lacking AF-2 is constitutively active in the absence of ligand in the growth plate, enabling ICI to act as an inverse agonist.


Sofia Movérare-Skrtic, Anna E Börjesson, Helen H Farman, Klara Sjögren, Sara H Windahl, Marie K Lagerquist, Annica Andersson, Alexandra Stubelius, Hans Carlsten, Jan-Åke Gustafsson, Claes Ohlsson. The estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 can act both as an agonist and an inverse agonist when estrogen receptor α AF-2 is modified. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014 Jan 21;111(3):1180-5

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PMID: 24395795

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