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Hypertension. 2011 Apr;57(4):825-32. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.168716. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Role of lipoxygenase metabolites of arachidonic acid in enhanced pulmonary artery contractions of female rabbits.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension is characterized by elevated pulmonary artery pressure and vascular resistance. In women the incidence is 4-fold greater than that in men. Studies suggest that sustained vasoconstriction is a factor in increased vascular resistance. Possible vasoconstrictor mediators include arachidonic acid-derived lipoxygenase (LO) metabolites. Our studies in rabbits showed enhanced endothelium-dependent contractions to arachidonic acid in pulmonary arteries from females compared with males. Because treatment with a nonspecific LO inhibitor reduced contractions in females but not males, the present study identified which LO isoform contributes to sex-specific pulmonary artery vasoconstriction. The 15- and 5- but not 12-LO protein expressions were greater in females. Basal and A23187-stimulated release of 15-, 5-, and 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETEs) from females and males were measured by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Only 15-HETE synthesis was greater in females compared with males under both basal and stimulated conditions. Vascular contractions to 15-HETE were enhanced in females compared with males (maximal contraction: 44±6%versus 25±3%). The specific 15-LO inhibitor PD146176 (12 μmol/L) decreased arachidonic acid-induced contractions in females (maximal contraction: 93±4% versus 57±10%). If male pulmonary arteries were incubated with estrogen (1 μmol/L, 18 hours), protein expression of 15-LO and 15-HETE production increased. Mechanisms to explain the increased incidence of pulmonary hypertension in women are not known. Results suggest that the 15-LO pathway is different between females and males and is regulated by estrogen. Understanding this novel sex-specific mechanism may provide insight into the increased incidence of pulmonary hypertension in females.

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