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.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 (alphaERKO, betaERKO) mice was studied. Subsequently, mouse suture-derived mesenchymal cells (SMCs) were isolated; the effects of 17-beta 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 ERalpha but not ERbeta transcript abundance temporally coincided with posterofrontal suture fusion. The alphaERKO but not betaERKO mouse exhibited delayed posterofrontal suture fusion. In vitro, addition of 17-beta 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.Estrogen signaling through ERalpha but not ERbeta 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.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0007120
View details for Web of Science ID 000270154400013
View details for PubMedID 19771170
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2743190