Sex-specific response of bone cells to gonadal steroids: modulation in perinatally androgenized females and in testicular feminized male rats

Yosef Weisman, Fernando Cassorla, Saul Malozowski, Richard J. Krieg, David Goldray, Alvin M. Kaye, Dalia Sömjen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have found previously that rat diaphyseal bone in vivo, as well as rat embryo calvaria cells in culture, show a sex-specific response to gonadal steroids in stimulation of creatine kinase (CK)-specific activity, and the rate of [3H] thymidine incorporation into DNA; male-derived cells responded only to testosterone or to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), whereas female-derived cells were stimulated exclusively by estradiol (E2). In this study, we tested whether developmental hormone manipulation could alter this sex specificity. We showed that diaphyseal bone of prenatally or neonatally androgenized female rats responds to a single injection of either E2 (5 μg/rat) or DHT (50 μg/rat) at 3-4 weeks postandrogenization. This response of androgenized female diaphyseal bone to androgen gradually declines; 3 months posttreatment, diaphyseal bone no longer responds to DHT and reverts to its original sex specificity. Rat embryo calvaria cell cultures prepared from female fetuses androgenized in utero showed the same lack of hormonal specificity, that is, the cells responded to both E2 (30 nM) or DHT (300 nM). Cells derived from the male siblings of the prenatally androgenized rats were not affected and responded only to DHT. In contrast to experiments in utero, in vitro administration of testosterone (1 μM) or E2 (1μM) to calvaria cells from female embryos failed to cause the cells to respond to DHT. Androgen receptor-deficient (Tfm) male rats, which have approximately 10% of the normal response to androgens, also showed a response to both testosterone and E2 in comparison to their normal male siblings, whose bones responded only to androgens. Estrogen injection into Tfm males resulted in as large an increase in the specific activity of CK as found after DHT injection. These results suggest that during development the receptor-mediated pathway of response to both androgens and estrogens exists in the bones of both sexes. However, the sex-specific response to sex steroid hormones by diaphyseal bone appears to depend on both prior and continuing exposure to the dominant sex steroid in each sex. (Steroids 58: 126-133, 1993).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993


  • androgenized female rats
  • calvaria cells
  • diaphyseal bone
  • dihydrotestosterone
  • estradiol
  • gonadal steroids
  • sexual differentiation
  • testicular feminized male rats


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