Connexin 43 (Cx43) plays an essential role in osteocyte mechanotransduction. Although estrogen involves in the adaptive responses of bone cells to mechanical loadings, its effects on osteocytic Cx43-based gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) remain obscure. We found that 17β estradiol (E2) up-regulated Cx43, and enhanced GJIC in osteocyte-like MLO-Y4 cells in fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) assay. Combination of E2 pre-treatment and oscillating fluid flow (OFF) further enhanced Cx43 expression and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation, comparing to E2 or OFF treatment alone. Both blocking of classical estrogen receptors (ERα/β) by fulvestrant and ERα knockdown by small interfering RNA inhibited E2-mediated Cx43 increase, while a GPR30-specific agonist G-1 failed to promote Cx43 expression. Our results suggest that the presence of E2 enhanced Cx43-based GJIC mainly via ERα/β pathway, and sensitized osteocytes to mechanical loading. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.