The Protective Effect of Hormone-Replacement Therapy on Fracture Risk Is Modulated by Estrogen Receptor α Genotype in Early Postmenopausal Women


  • Presented in part as an abstract at the 21st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., 1999


Genetic factors regulate bone mineral density (BMD) and possibly development of osteoporosis. It has been suggested that estrogen receptor α (ERα) genotype is associated with BMD, but the association between ERα genotype, fracture risk, and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has not been studied. Therefore, we evaluated whether ERα polymorphism is associated with fracture risk in a 5-year trial with HRT in a population-based, randomized group of 331 early postmenopausal women. The participants consisted of two treatment groups: the HRT group (n = 151) received a sequential combination of 2 mg of estradiol valerate (E2Val) and 1 mg of cyproterone acetate with or without vitamin D3, 100-300 IU + 93 mg calcium as lactate per day; and the non-HRT group (n = 180) received 93 mg of calcium alone or in combination with vitamin D3, 100-300 IU/day. All new symptomatic, radiographically defined fractures were recorded. Pvu II restriction fragment length polymorphism of the ERα was determined using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In all, 28 women sustained 33 fractures during the approximately 5.1-year follow-up. In the HRT group, the ERα genotype (PP, Pp, and pp) was not significantly associated with fracture risk (p = 0.138; Cox proportional hazards model). When the genotype was dichotomized (PP + Pp vs. pp), the incidence of new fractures in the HRT group was significantly reduced in women with the P allele (p = 0.046) with the relative risk (HR) of 0.25 (95% CI, 0.07-0.98), in comparison with the non-P allele group. After adjustment for time since menopause and previous fracture, the association between the dichotomous genotype and fracture risk persisted with HR of 0.24 (95% CI, 0.06-0.95; p = 0.042). In the non-HRT group, the ERα genotype was not significantly associated with fracture risk. During HRT, women with the pp genotype have a greater fracture risk than those with the P allele. The results suggest that the pp genotype is a relatively hormone-insensitive genotype, and it appears that women with the P allele may benefit more from the protective effect of HRT on fracture risk than women with the pp genotype.