Raloxifene (Mechanism of Action)

In this article, we will discuss Raloxifene (Mechanism of Action). So, let’s get started.

Mechanism of Action

Decreases in estrogen levels after oophorectomy or menopause lead to increases in bone resorption and
accelerated bone loss. Bone is initially lost rapidly because the compensatory increase in bone formation is inadequate to offset resorptive losses. In addition to loss of estrogen, this imbalance between resorption and formation may be due to age-related impairment of osteoblasts or their precursors. In some women, these changes will eventually lead to decreased bone mass, osteoporosis, and increased risk for fractures, particularly of the spine, hip, and wrist. Vertebral fractures are the most common type of osteoporotic fracture in postmenopausal women. The biological actions of raloxifene are largely mediated through binding to estrogen receptors. This binding results in activation of certain estrogenic pathways and blockade of others. Thus, raloxifene is an estrogen agonist/antagonist, commonly referred to as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

Raloxifene decreases resorption of bone and reduces biochemical markers of bone turnover to the premenopausal range. These effects on bone are manifested as reductions in the serum and urine levels of bone turnover markers, decreases in bone resorption based on radiocalcium kinetics studies, increases in bone mineral density (BMD), and decreases in incidence of fractures.


In both the osteoporosis treatment and prevention trials, raloxifene therapy resulted in consistent, statistically significant suppression of bone resorption and bone formation, as reflected by changes in serum and urine markers of bone turnover (e.g., bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, and collagen breakdown products). The
suppression of bone turnover markers was evident by 3 months and persisted throughout the 36-month and 24-month observation periods. In a 31-week, open-label, radiocalcium kinetics study, 33 early postmenopausal women were randomized to treatment with once-daily raloxifene 60 mg, cyclic estrogen/progestin (0.625 mg conjugated estrogens daily with 5 mg medroxyprogesterone acetate daily for the first 2 weeks of each month [hormone therapy]), or no treatment.

Treatment with either raloxifene or hormone therapy was associated with reduced bone resorption and a positive shift in calcium balance (-82 mg Ca/day and +60 mg Ca/day, respectively, for raloxifene and -162 mg Ca/day and +91 mg Ca/day, respectively, for hormone therapy). There were small decreases in serum total calcium, inorganic phosphate, total protein, and albumin, which were generally of lesser magnitude than decreases observed during estrogen or hormone therapy. Platelet count was also decreased slightly and was not different from estrogen therapy.

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