Open Access Open Badges Research article

Estradiol ameliorates arthritis and protects against systemic bone loss in Staphylococcus aureus infection in mice

Inger Gjertsson1, Marie K Lagerquist12, Erik Kristiansson3, Hans Carlsten12 and Catharina Lindholm12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, Guldhedsgatan 10A, Gothenburg, S-413 46, Sweden

2 CBAR, Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Guldhedsgatan 10A, Gothenburg, S-413 46, Sweden

3 Department of Mathematical Statistics, Chalmers University of Technology, Chalmers tvärgata 3, Gothenburg, S-412 96, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R76  doi:10.1186/ar3799

Published: 16 April 2012



Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of bacterial arthritis, which is associated with progressive bone loss in affected joints. We recently showed that S. aureus infection also induces a significant systemic bone loss in mice. This study was performed to assess the effect of estradiol treatment on the clinical course and outcome of S. aureus arthritis and on infection-induced bone loss in experimental S. aureus infection.


Mice were ovariectomized, treated with estradiol or placebo, and S. aureus infection was established by intravenous inoculation of bacteria.


Estradiol treatment was found to decrease significantly the frequency and clinical severity of S. aureus arthritis, a finding that was accompanied with significantly higher serum levels of interleukin-10 in estradiol-treated mice. Estradiol was also highly protective against S. aureus-induced systemic trabecular, and cortical bone loss. Lack of endogenous estrogens and S. aureus infection had additive effects on trabecular bone loss. The S. aureus-infected, ovariectomized mice lost as much as 76% of their trabecular bone mass.


Treatment with estradiol ameliorates S. aureus arthritis and is protective against infection-induced systemic bone loss in experimental S. aureus infection.