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Ann Intern Med. 1993 Mar 15;118(6):429-32.

Influence of sex hormones on plasma endothelin levels.

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  • 1Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To determine whether a sex-associated difference in endothelin levels exists and to assess whether this difference is mediated by sex hormones.


Initial survey in healthy persons, followed by a nonrandomized intervention.


A university teaching hospital.


Twenty-three healthy men, 29 healthy women, 20 pregnant women, and 12 male-to-female and 13 female-to-male transsexual patients.


Plasma levels of endothelin were first assessed in healthy men, healthy women, and pregnant women; subsequently, endothelin levels were determined in male-to-female and female-to-male transsexual patients both before and during cross-gender hormone treatment. This treatment involves administration of testosterone esters to women and of ethynylestradiol and cyproterone acetate to men.


Endothelin levels were higher in men than in women (5.9 +/- 1.2 compared with 4.17 +/- 0.67 pg/mL; P < 0.01). Endothelin levels were lower in pregnant women than in age- and sex-matched nonpregnant controls (2.19 +/- 0.73 compared with 4.17 +/- 0.67 pg/mL; P < 0.01). In 12 male-to-female transsexuals treated with estradiol and the progestational agent cyproterone acetate, endothelin levels decreased from 8.1 +/- 3.0 to 5.1 +/- 2.0 pg/mL (P < 0.01). In 13 female-to-male transsexuals treated with testosterone, endothelin levels increased from 6.2 +/- 1.1 to 7.8 +/- 1.2 pg/mL (P < 0.01).


Sex hormones may modulate plasma endothelin levels, with male hormones raising levels and female hormones lowering them. This finding may be important in explaining sex-associated differences in susceptibility to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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