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Baillieres Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 1991 Dec;5(4):915-34.

Effects of oestrogens and progestogens on coronary atherosclerosis and osteoporosis of monkeys.


We have used the cynomolgus macaque as a model for the study of the effects of endogenous and exogenous sex steroid hormones on atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. As in human beings, premenopausal female cynomolgus macaques develop much less extensive coronary artery atherosclerosis than their male counterparts. Furthermore, surgical menopause results in a more atherogenic plasma lipoprotein pattern and an approximate doubling of atherosclerosis extent. Frequent pregnancy, a hyperoestrogenic state, results in an approximate 50% reduction in atherosclerosis extent. Physiological replacement with 17 beta-oestradiol alone or in combination with progesterone prevents the increase in coronary artery atherosclerosis extent associated with ovariectomy. This effect is independent of plasma lipoprotein concentrations and appears to be accounted for, at least in part, by an inhibitory effect of oestrogen replacement therapy on the uptake and degradation of LDL by the artery wall. Also, as in human beings, treatment with certain types of combination oral contraceptives results in marked decreases in plasma HDL-C concentration. Nonetheless, coronary artery atherosclerosis extent is reduced in monkeys by oral contraceptive treatment, and this effect is most pronounced among animals at highest risk due to theoretically adverse plasma lipoprotein profiles. It appears that, as with oestrogen replacement therapy, this effect can be accounted for, at least in part, by an inhibition of the uptake and degradation of low density lipoprotein by the artery wall. The monkey also appears to be a good model for studies of postmenopausal bone loss. As in women, surgical menopause results in significant diminution of bone mineral density and bone mineral content. Also, serum biomarkers of bone turnover (total alkaline phosphatase, acid phosphatase, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase and osteocalcin) are increased in surgically postmenopausal monkeys, indicating increased bone turnover resulting from the surgical menopause. These increases in bone loss and indices of bone turnover were prevented by physiological oestrogen replacement therapy. Cynomolgus monkeys seem to be exceptionally useful models for studies of the effects of sex steroid hormones on atherosclerosis and osteoporosis, two major public health problems in postmenopausal women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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