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Atherosclerosis. 1996 Aug 23;125(1):27-38.

Estrogen inhibits endothelin-1 production and c-fos gene expression in rat aorta.

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  • 1Department of Geriatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


In order to clarify the mechanism underlying the preventive effect of estrogen on atherogenesis, we investigated the role of estrogen in the regulation of endothelin-1 (ET-1) production and c-fos mRNA expression, which may contribute to atherogenesis. Plasma ET-1 concentration in ovariectomized rats (OVX) was twice as high as that in sham-operated female rats (Sham). Estradiol replacement in OVX rats (OVX + E) decreased plasma ET-1 to the level in Sham (Sham, 0.68 +/- 0.14; OVX, 1.32 +/- 0.14; OVX + E, 0.85 +/- 0.12 pg/ml). Metabolic clearance rate of ET-1 was similar in these three groups of rats, suggesting that the difference in plasma ET-1 was due to production rather than degradation. Measurement of immunoreactive ET-1 in tissue extract and immunohistochemical examination showed that expression of ET-1 in the aortic smooth muscle cells of OVX was increased. The expression of c-fos mRNA in the aorta was also increased in OVX compared with Sham and OVX + E. Intravenous infusion of ET-1 to Sham induced c-fos expression in the aorta, suggesting the contribution of ET-1 to c-fos expression. Tissue culture study revealed that DNA synthesis was increased in the aorta and femoral artery of OVX. These results suggest that inhibition of ET-1 and c-fos expression is involved in the anti-atherogenic action of estrogen.

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