Estrogen versus FSH effects on bone metabolism: Evidence from interventional human studies

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2 Scopus citations


Provocative mouse studies and observational human data have generated considerable enthusiasm for modulating follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) action in humans to prevent bone loss and, in addition, to treat obesity. This perspective summarizes the strengths and potential weaknesses of the mouse studies examining the skeletal phenotype of FSHβ or FSH receptor null mice, as well as more recent studies using FSH neutralizing antibodies. Although human observational studies do demonstrate correlation of serum FSH levels with postmenopausal bone loss, these studies cannot distinguish whether serum FSH is simply a better biomarker than estradiol or causally related to the bone loss. Establishing causality requires direct interventional studies either suppressing or infusing FSH in humans and to date, such studies have uniformly failed to demonstrate an effect of FSH on bone turnover independent of changes in sex steroid levels. In addition, suppression of FSH is unable to prevent increases in body fat following the induction of sex steroid deficiency, at least in men. Thus, although the preclinical mouse and human observational data are intriguing, there is currently no direct evidence from interventional studies that FSH regulates bone or fat metabolism in vivo in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEndocrinology (United States)
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2020


  • Bone
  • Fat
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Sex steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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