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Cardiovasc Surg. 1999 Apr;7(3):327-31.

Estrogen and progesterone receptors in normal and varicose saphenous veins.

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Department of Vascular Surgery, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, Israel.


The presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors was investigated in the walls of normal and varicose veins. Cryostat sections from the saphenous veins of 29 normal individuals, and varicose and normal vein segments of 32 patients with varicose veins, were stained with anti-estrogen or anti-progesterone receptor antibodies. Nuclear stain intensity was scored by three independent observers. Receptors to both hormones were detected in the nuclear regions of the intima and media in females and males. In the adventitia, estrogen and the progesterone receptors were found only in nuclei of the vasa vasorum. Estrogen receptor levels were lower in non-varicose segments of varicose veins compared with normal veins. In varicose segments, estrogen receptors were more abundant than in the non-varicose parts of the same vein, especially in females. Similarly, progesterone receptor levels in the non-varicose portions were higher in females. These gender differences may be related to hormonal action. However, these differences may also be age related. These findings may be related to the involvement of sex-hormones in varicosis, by mechanisms as yet unknown.

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