Premenopausal women have a significant reduction in coronary artery disease compared to age-matched males. Little is known about the mechanism underlying this cardioprotective effect of estrogen. Contradictory evidence has been published and our lack of basic understanding of hormone interactions and bioavailability of different estrogens prevents definitive interpretation of these data. We demonstrate gender-specific effects in the proliferation of coronary artery vascular smooth muscle cells obtained from a sexually mature animal model. Vascular smooth muscle cells are an integral component of the atherosclerotic plaque, and inhibition of cell proliferation by estrogen may be one mechanism by which estrogen exerts its cardioprotective effect. Various types of estrogen may also have different mechanistic actions on the vascular system. No differences are demonstrated in overall estradiol binding in vascular smooth muscle cells obtained from male or female animals; however, differences in c-jun, c-fos and TIEG gene expression were gender related. Inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation may have important implications in the prevention of atherosclerotic disease and these studies may provide evidence for the cardioprotective effect of estrogen.
- Vascular biology
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