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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Oct 1;305(7):E818-25. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00343.2013. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Androgens influence microvascular dilation in PCOS through ET-A and ET-B receptors.

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John B. Pierce Laboratory, New Haven, Connecticut;


Hyperandrogenism and vascular dysfunction often coexist in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). We hypothesized that testosterone compromises cutaneous microvascular dilation in women with PCOS via the endothelin-1 ET-B subtype receptor. To control and isolate testosterone's effects on microvascular dilation, we administered a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist (GnRHant) for 11 days in obese, otherwise healthy women [controls, 22.0 (4) yr, 36.0 (3.2) kg/m(2)] or women with PCOS [23 (4) yr, 35.4 (1.3) kg/m(2)], adding testosterone (T; 2.5 mg/day) on days 8-11. Using laser Doppler flowmetry and cutaneous microdialysis, we measured changes in skin microcirculatory responsiveness (ΔCVC) to local heating while perfusing ET-A (BQ-123) and ET-B (BQ-788) receptor antagonists under three experimental conditions: baseline (BL; prehormone intervention), GnRHant (day 4 of administration), and T administration. At BL, ET-A receptor inhibition enhanced heat-induced vasodilation in both groups [ΔCVC control 2.03 (0.65), PCOS 2.10 (0.25), AU/mmHg, P < 0.05]; ET-B receptor inhibition reduced vasodilation in controls only [ΔCVC 0.98 (0.39), 1.41 (0.45) AU/mmHg for controls, PCOS] compared with saline [ΔCVC controls 1.27 (0.48), PCOS 1.31 (0.13) AU/mmHg]. GnRHant enhanced vasodilation in PCOS [saline ΔCVC 1.69 (0.23) AU/mmHg vs. BL, P < 0.05] and abolished the ET-A effect in both groups, a response reasserted with T in controls. ET-B receptor inhibition reduced heat-induced vasodilation in both groups during GnRHant and T [ΔCVC, controls: 0.95 (0.21) vs. 0.51 (13); PCOS: 1.27 (0.23) vs. 0.84 (0.27); for GnRHant vs. T, P < 0.05]. These data demonstrate that androgen suppression improves microvascular dilation in PCOS via ET-A and ET-B receptors.


aldosterone; endothelin; polycystic ovary syndrome; testosterone; vasoconstriction; vasodilation

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