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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 May 18;421(4):707-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.04.066. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

Biphasic effect of danazol on human vascular endothelial cell permeability and f-actin cytoskeleton dynamics.

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Swedish Medical Center, Trauma Research Laboratory, Englewood, CO, USA.


Breakdown of endothelial barrier function is a hallmark event across a variety of pathologies such as inflammation, cancer, and diabetes. It has also been appreciated that steroid hormones impart direct biological activity on endothelial cells at many levels. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the effect of the androgen-like steroid, danazol, on endothelial cell barrier function in vitro. Primary human endothelial cells exposed to 0.01-50 μM danazol were evaluated for changes in permeability. We found that danazol altered endothelial permeability in a biphasic manner in which nanomolar concentrations enhance barrier function while micromolar concentrations are detrimental. Monitoring of trans-endothelial electrical resistance demonstrated that these barrier enhancing effects were rapid (within 5 min) and lasted for over 24h. Analysis of intracellular f-actin organization showed that barrier enhancement also correlated with the formation of a submembranous cortical actin ring. Conversely, at higher danazol concentrations, contractile cell phenotypes were observed, represented by stress fiber formation. Competitive binding studies performed using steroid hormone receptor antagonists proved that this activity is the result of androgen and estrogen receptor ligation. These findings suggest that low dose danazol may provide a therapeutic window for diseases involving vascular leakage.

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