Tamoxifen regulation of bone growth and endocrine function in the ovariectomized rat: discrimination of responses involving estrogen receptor α/estrogen receptor β, G protein-coupled estrogen receptor, or estrogen-related receptor γ using fulvestrant (ICi 182780)

Fitts, J.M.; Klein, R.M.; Powers, C.A.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 338(1): 246-254


ISSN/ISBN: 1521-0103
PMID: 21464335
DOI: 10.1124/jpet.110.173955
Accession: 056114818

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Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator, but it is also a deactivating ligand for estrogen-related receptor-γ (ERRγ) and a full agonist for the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER). Fulvestrant is a selective ER down-regulator that lacks agonist effects on ERα/ERβ, is inactive on ERRγ, but acts as a full agonist on GPER. Fulvestrant effects on tamoxifen actions on uterine and somatic growth, bone, the growth hormone (GH)-insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) axis, and pituitary prolactin were analyzed to pharmacologically discriminate tamoxifen effects that may be mediated by ERα/ERβ versus ERRγ versus GPER. Ovariectomized rats received tamoxifen (0.6 mg/kg/daily) plus fulvestrant at 0, 3, 6, or 12 mg/kg/daily for 5 weeks; controls received vehicle or 6 mg/kg fulvestrant daily. Tamoxifen effects to increase uterine weight, decrease serum IGF-I, increase pituitary prolactin, and increase bone mineral density could be fully blocked by fulvestrant, indicating mediation by ERα/ERβ. Tamoxifen effects to decrease pituitary GH, tibia length, and body weight were only partially blocked by fulvestrant, indicating involvement of mechanisms unrelated to ERα/ERβ. Fulvestrant did not inhibit tamoxifen actions to reduce total pituitary protein, again indicating effects not mediated by ERα/ERβ. Tamoxifen actions to reduce serum GH were mimicked rather than inhibited by fulvestrant, pharmacological features consistent with GPER involvement. However, fulvestrant alone increased IGF-I and also blocked tamoxifen-evoked IGF-I decreases; thus fulvestrant effects on serum GH might reflect increased IGF-I feedback inhibition. Fulvestrant alone had no effect on the other parameters. The findings indicate that mechanisms unrelated to ERα/ERβ contribute to tamoxifen effects on body weight, bone growth, and pituitary function.