The effects of sex steroids on thyroid C cells and trabecular bone structure in the rat model of male osteoporosis



Branko Filipović, Department of Cytology, Institute for Biological Research, University of Belgrade, 142 Despot Stefan Boulevard, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia. T: + 381 11 2078322; F: + 381 11 2761433; E:


Androgen deficiency is one of the major factors leading to the development of osteoporosis in men. Since calcitonin (CT) is a potent antiresorptive agent, in the present study we investigated the effects of androgen deficiency and subsequent testosterone and estradiol treatment on CT-producing thyroid C cells, skeletal and hormonal changes in middle-aged orchidectomized (Orx) rats. Fifteen-month-old male Wistar rats were either Orx or sham-operated (SO). One group of Orx rats received 5 mg kg−1 b.w. testosterone propionate (TP) subcutaneously, while another group was injected with 0.06 mg kg−1 b.w. estradiol dipropionate (EDP) once a day for 3 weeks. A peroxidase–antiperoxidase method was applied for localization of CT in the C cells. The studies included ultrastructural microscopic observation of these cells. The metaphyseal region of the proximal tibia was measured histomorphometrically using an imagej public domain image processing program. TP or EDP treatment significantly increased C cell volume (Vc), volume densities (Vv) and serum CT concentration compared with the Orx animals. Administration of both TP and EDP significantly enhanced cancellous bone area (B.Ar), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) and trabecular number (Tb.N) and reduced trabecular separation (Tb.Sp). Serum osteocalcin (OC) and urinary Ca concentrations were significantly lower after these treatments in comparison with Orx rats. These data suggest that testosterone and estradiol treatment in Orx middle-aged rats affect calcitonin-producing thyroid C cells, which may contribute to the bone protective effects of sex hormones in the rat model of male osteoporosis.