Differentiation of cultured mice bone marrow into osteoblast-like cells results in acquisition of sex-specific responsiveness to gonadal steroids

E. Berger, I. Bleiberg, Y. Weisman, A. Harel, A. M. Kaye, Dalias Somjen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously demonstrated that mouse skeletal tissue, rat bone as well as rat or human derived bone cells in culture, show a sex-specific response to gonadal steroids in stimulation of the specific activity of the BB isozyme of creatine kinase (CK). This response could be modified by manipulation of the endocrine environment during early postnatal development. Moreover, pretreatment with vitamin D up-regulated the sex-specific responsiveness and sensitivity to gonadal steroids. In the present study we examine the differentiation pattern into osteoblast-like cells using dexamethasone (DEX) and 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D3 (1,25D) and their effect on the acquisition of responsiveness to gonadal steroids by the differentiated cells. Cultured femoral bone marrow in the presence of DEX or 1,25D or both, were examined for their response to gonadal steroids by measuring the specific activities of alkaline phosphatase (AP) and CK BB. The constitutive level of CK in both male- and female-derived bone cells was decreased by DEX, by 1,25D or by both, whereas the constitutive level of AP was increased by DEX while decreased by 1,25D or by both. Following incubation of the bone marrow cultures with DEX, treatment with estradiol 17β (E2, 30 nM, 24 h) stimulated CK activity in female derived bone cells, with no effect of treatment with dihydrotestosterone (DHT, 300 nM). In contrast, in male derived bone cells, DHT but not E2 increased CK activity. This sex-specific response was also achieved upon culturing with 1,25D and was significantly augmented by culturing with both. No response to gonadal steroids was seen with undifferentiated bone marrow cells. All cultures responded to IGF-I when cultured with or without DEX and/or 1,25D but with no augmentation by 1,25D. Gonadal steroids increased AP to a much lesser extent; but enzyme activity decreased in the presence of 1,25D. IGF-I stimulated AP slightly with no effect of 1,25D. These findings suggest that manipulation of the hormonal milieu in early stages of differentiation sequence of osteoblast-like cells, determines the subsequent selective responsiveness of the developing bone tissue to gonadal steroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-628
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2004


  • Androgens
  • Bone marrow
  • Creatine kinase
  • Estrogen
  • Osteoblasts
  • Vitamin D


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