Estrogen receptors alpha (ESR1) and beta (ESR2) are expressed in circulating human lymphocytes.
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Bone marrow thymocytes in part mediate the bone-preserving effects of estrogen by decreasing their production of osteoclast growth factors such as interleukin-1 and -6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha in the presence of physiological amounts of estradiol. Although several in vitro studies implicate the T-lymphocyte as a candidate mediator of estrogen signaling in the skeleton, whether these cells or any lymphocytes ordinarily express one or both nuclear estrogen receptors was previously unresolved. The purpose of our investigation was therefore to ascertain, by using real-time PCR, immmunoblotting, and cytometric techniques, if any of the nuclear estrogen receptors could be detected in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) collected from healthy volunteers. The results of immunoblotting experiments revealed that both estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) and beta (ESR2) proteins are expressed in nuclei, but not in the cytoplasm of PBMNC harvested from all of the 15 healthy male and female volunteers (aged 23-50 years) we tested. PBMNCs contained mRNA coding for the two major full-length isoforms of ESR2 and the expression of ESR2 protein was localized within a lymphocyte subpopulation by cytometric analysis. Our data provide further evidence that lymphocytes and monocytes are responsive to estrogen and underscore its importance in modulating the immune response, as well as the vascular and skeletal health of men and women.