Raloxifene (marketed as Evista by Eli Lilly and Company) is an oral selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that has estrogenic actions on bone and anti-estrogenic actions on the uterus and breast. Raloxifene binds to estrogen receptors, resulting in differential expression of multiple estrogen-regulated genes in different tissues. Raloxifene produces estrogen-like effects on bone, reducing resorption of bone and increasing bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, thus slowing the rate of bone loss. The maintenance of bone mass by raloxifene and estrogens is, in part, through the regulation of the gene-encoding transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3), which is a bone matrix protein with antiosteoclastic properties. Raloxifene activates TGF-β3 through pathways that are estrogen receptor-mediated but involve DNA sequences distinct from the estrogen response element. The drug also binds to the estrogen receptor and acts as an estrogen agonist in preosteoclastic cells, which results in the inhibition of their proliferative capacity. This inhibition is thought to contribute to the drug's effect on bone resorption. Other mechanisms include the suppression of the activity of the bone-resorbing cytokine interleukin-6 promoter activity. Raloxifene also antagonizes the effects of estrogen on mammary tissue and blocks uterotrophic responses to estrogen. By competing with estrogens for the estrogen receptors in reproductive tissue, raloxifene prevents the transcriptional activation of genes containing the estrogen response element. As well, raloxifene inhibits the estradiol-dependent proliferation of MCF-7 human mammary tumor cells in vitro. The mechanism of action of raloxifene has not been fully determined, but evidence suggests that the drug's tissue-specific estrogen agonist or antagonist activity is related to the structural differences between the raloxifene-estrogen receptor complex (specifically the surface topography of AF-2) and the estrogen-estrogen receptor complex. Also, the existence of at least 2 estrogen receptors (ERα, ERβ) may contribute to the tissue specificity of raloxifene. Raloxifene is indicated for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is also used for reduction of risk and treatment of invasive breast cancer, and it also reduces breast density. For either osteoporosis treatment or prevention, supplemental calcium and/or vitamin D should be added to the diet if daily intake is inadequate. Common adverse events considered to be drug-related were hot flashes and leg cramps. NCATS
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