Ovarian steroid treatment blocks a postmenopausal increase in blood monocyte interleukin 1 release

R. Pacifici, L. Rifas, R. McCracken, I. Vered, C. McMurtry, L. V. Avioli, W. A. Peck

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    In previous studies, we showed that blood monocyte elaboration of interleukin 1 (IL-1), a known stimulator of bone resorption, was higher in osteoporotic patients with rapid bone turnover than in those with slow turnover and in nonosteoporotic subjects. Since an acceleration of bone loss following menopause contributes to the risk of osteoporosis in women, we have studied the effects of menopause and ovarian steroid treatment on IL-1 release by monocytes obtained from nonosteoporotic and osteoporotic women. IL-1 activity in the monocyte culture medium derived from untreated postmenopausal women (nonosteoporotic and osteoporotic) was higher than in the medium derived from either untreated premenopausal or estrogen/progesterone-treated postmenopausal women. A significant negative correlation was found between IL-1 and years since menopause in both the healthy (r = -0.75; P <0.005) and the osteoporotic (r = -0.61; P <0.01) untreated postmenopausal women. The difference between the two slopes was significant at P <0.05. Premenopausal IL-1 levels were achieved within 8 years of menopause in the nonosteoporotic, but not in the osteoporotic, subjects in whom increases were evident as long as 15 years after menopause. IL-1 also correlated inversely with vertebral mineral density (r = -0.37; P <0.05), as measured by quantitative computed tomography. In prospective studies, treatment with estrogen/progesterone for 1 month caused a substantial highly significant decrease in IL-1 activity in each of three nonosteoporotic and five osteoporotic women, confirming the apparent effect of hormone therapy observed in the cross-sectional analysis. Although a cause-effect relationship has not been established, it is our hypothesis, based on these data, that alterations in IL-1 production may underlie the postmenopausal acceleration in bone loss and its inhibition by ovarian steroids. Persistent elevation of IL-1 secretion appears to be a feature of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2398-2402
    Number of pages5
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 1989


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