A detailed analysis of the differential effects of estrogen (E) compared to raloxifene (Ral), a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), following estrogen receptor (ER) binding in gynecological tissues was conducted using gene microarrays, Northern blot analysis, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 activity studies. We profiled gene expression in the uterus following acute (1 day) and prolonged daily (5 wk) treatment of E and Ral in ovariectomized rats. Estrogen regulated twice as many genes as Ral, largely those associated with catalysis and metabolism, whereas Ral induced genes associated with cell death and negative cell regulation. Follow-up studies confirmed that genes associated with matrix integrity were differentially regulated by Ral and E at various time points in uterine and vaginal tissues. Additional experiments were conducted to determine the levels of MMP2 activity in uterus explants from ovariectomized rats following 2 wk of treatment with E, Ral, or one of two additional SERMs: lasofoxifene, and levormeloxifene. Both E and lasofoxifene stimulated uterine MMP2 activity to a level twofold that of Ral, whereas levormeloxifene elevated MMP2 activity to a level 12-fold that of Ral. These data show that one of the significant differences between E and Ral signaling in the uterus is the regulation of genes and proteins associated with matrix integrity. This may be a potential key difference between the action of SERMs in the uterus of postmenopausal women.
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