Authors: Allan CM, Kalak R, Dunstan CR, et. al
Elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) activity is proposed to directly cause bone loss independent of estradiol deficiency in aging women. Using transgenic female mice expressing human FSH (TgFSH), we now reveal that TgFSH dose-dependently increased bone mass, markedly elevating tibial and vertebral trabecular bone volume. Furthermore, TgFSH stimulated a striking accrual of bone mass in hypogonadal mice lacking endogenous FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) function, showing that FSH-induced bone mass occurred independently of background LH or estradiol levels. Higher TgFSH levels increased osteoblast surfaces in trabecular bone and stimulated de novo bone formation, filling marrow spaces with woven rather than lamellar bone, reflective of a strong anabolic stimulus. Trabecular bone volume correlated positively with ovarian-derived serum inhibin A or testosterone levels in TgFSH mice, and ovariectomy abolished TgFSH-induced bone formation, proving that FSH effects on bone require an ovary-dependent pathway. No detectable FSH receptor mRNA in mouse bone or cultured osteoblasts or osteoclasts indicated that FSH did not directly stimulate bone. Therefore, contrary to proposed FSH-induced bone loss, our findings demonstrate that FSH has dose-dependent anabolic effects on bone via an ovary-dependent mechanism, which is independent of LH activity, and does not involve direct FSH actions on bone cells.