Background: While premature suture fusion, or craniosynostosis, is a relatively common condition, the cause is often unknown. Estrogens are associated with growth plate fusion of endochondral bones. In the following study, we explore the previously unknown significance of estrogen/estrogen receptor signaling in cranial suture biology. Methodology/Principal Findings: Firstly, estrogen receptor (ER) expression was examined in physiologically fusing (posterofrontal) and patent (sagittal) mouse cranial sutures by quantitative RT-PCR. Next, the cranial suture phenotype of ER alpha and ER beta knockout (αERKO, βERKO) mice was studied. Subsequently, mouse suture-derived mesenchymal cells (SMCs) were isolated; the effects of 17-β estradiol or the estrogen antagonist Fulvestrant on gene expression, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation were examined in vitro. Finally, in vivo experiments were performed in which Fulvestrant was administered subcutaneously to the mouse calvaria. Results showed that increased ERα but not ERβ transcript abundance temporally coincided with posterofrontal suture fusion. The αERKO but not βERKO mouse exhibited delayed posterofrontal suture fusion. In vitro, addition of 17-β estradiol enhanced both osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation in suture-derived mesenchymal cells, effects reversible by Fulvestrant. Finally, in vivo application of Fulvestrant significantly diminished calvarial osteogenesis, inhibiting suture fusion. Conclusions/Significance: Estrogen signaling through ERα but not ERβ is associated with and necessary for normal mouse posterofrontal suture fusion. In vitro studies suggest that estrogens may play a role in osteoblast and/or chondrocyte differentiation within the cranial suture complex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)