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Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining normal bone metabolism via the direct or indirect regulation of bone cells. Osteoblastic cells, as the target cells of estrogen, can secrete multiple matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that participate in bone remodeling. It has been demonstrated that bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency is closely related to the abnormal expression of multiple MMPs in osteoblastic cells. However, the regulating action of estrogen on the expression of interstitial collagenases MMP-8 and MMP-13 in osteoblastic cells in vivo remains unclear. We used an ovariectomized osteoporotic rat model to analyze the changes in the histomorphometric parameters of bone after and without treatment with 17β-estradiol (E2); We also used immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization to observe changes in the expression of mRNA and the proteins MMP-8, MMP-13 and TIMP-1 in osteoblastic cells in rat proximal tibia. In this study, we found that in the ovariectomized rat the expression of MMP-13 mRNA and protein increased markedly, whereas the expression of MMP-8 and TIMP-1 mRNA and protein did not change significantly. Our analysis showed that the expression of MMP-13 protein was correlated positively to bone trabecular separation, osteoid surface area, and negatively to trabecular numbers and the percentage of trabecula bone volume/total tissue volume. Our results suggest that MMP-13 plays an important role in estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss, while estrogen can inhibit bone resorption and reduce bone turnover rate by down-regulating the expression of MMP-13 in osteoblastic cells.