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Atherosclerosis. 2004 Nov;177(1):89-96.

Progesterone abolishes estrogen and/or atorvastatin endothelium dependent vasodilatory effects.

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  • 1Dante Pazzanese Institute of Cardiology, São Paulo, Brazil. afaludi@uol.com.br


This double blind randomized placebo controlled study assessed the effects of atorvastatin, estradiol and norethisterone, isolated and in combination, on the lipid profile and on vascular reactivity, in post-menopausal women with hypercholesterolemia and arterial hypertension. Ninety-four women aged 50-65 were selected. All have received dietary counseling (4 weeks), placebo (4 weeks), and drug therapy (12 weeks): 17-beta estradiol 2mg/day (E) (n=17); E + norethisterone acetate 1mg/day (P) (n=18); Atorvastatin 10mg/day (A) (n=20); E + A (n=21) and E + P + A (n=18). All treatment modalities have significantly reduced total cholesterol (TC) (E=8.8%, E + P=10.1%, A=27.9%, A + E=29.4% and E + P + A=35.7%) and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-c) levels (E + P + A=46.6%, E + A=45.9%, A=40.2%, E=20.3%, and E + P=12.1%). As concerns HDL-cholesterol (HDL-c), Groups E and E + A had increases of 15.5% and 13.1%, respectively. The addition of a progesterone compound reduced its concentration (Group E + P=-9.1%, and Group E + P + A=-9.5%). By random, approximately half of the patients in each group were designated to the endothelial function evaluation (brachial artery ultrasound). We observed that in Group A (n=10), in Group E (n=10) and with the association (Group E + A) (n=7), there was a significant increase in the flow-mediated vasodilatation as compared to basal measurements. The addition of a progestin has annulled these benefits.


Atorvastatin has promoted more beneficial effects on TC and LDL-c, whereas estradiol was responsible for an increase in HDL-c. The addition of a progesterone derivative abolished these benefits. Atorvastatin, estradiol or both together improved endothelial function, an effect suppressed by the addition of norethisterone.

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