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Mol Pharmacol. 1997 Jun;51(6):951-62.

2-Methoxyestradiol, an endogenous estrogen metabolite, induces apoptosis in endothelial cells and inhibits angiogenesis: possible role for stress-activated protein kinase signaling pathway and Fas expression.

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Department of Cardiovascular Phamacology, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406, USA.


2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME) is an endogenous metabolite of estradiol-17beta and the oral contraceptive agent 17-ethylestradiol. 2-ME was recently reported to inhibit endothelial cell proliferation. The current study was undertaken to explore the mechanism of 2-ME effects on endothelial cells, especially whether 2-ME induces apoptosis, a prime mechanism in tissue remodeling and angiogenesis. Cultured bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells (BPAEC) exposed to 2-ME showed morphological (including ultrastructural) features characteristic of apoptosis: cell shrinkage, cytoplasmic and nuclear condensation, and cell blebbing. 2-ME-induced apoptosis in BPAEC was a time- and concentration-dependent process (EC50 = 0.45 +/- 0.09 microM, n = 8). Nucleosomal DNA fragmentation in BPAEC treated with 2-ME was identified by agarose gel electrophoresis (DNA ladder) as well as in situ nick end labeling. Under the same experimental conditions, estradiol-17beta and two of its other metabolites, estriol and 2-methoxyestriol (< or =10 microM), did not have an apoptotic effect on BPAEC. 2-ME activated stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK)/c-Jun amino-terminal protein kinase in BPAEC in a concentration-dependent manner. The activity of SAPK was increased by 170 +/- 27% and 314 +/- 22% over the basal level in the presence of 0.4 and 2 microM 2-ME (n = 3-6), respectively. The activation of SAPK was detected at 10 min, peaked at 20 min, and returned to basal levels at 60 min after exposure to 2-ME. Inhibition of SAPK/c-Jun amino-terminal protein kinase activation by basic fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factor, or forskolin reduced 2-ME-induced apoptosis. Immunohistochemical analysis of BPAEC indicated that 2-ME up-regulated expression of both Fas and Bcl-2. In addition, 2-ME inhibited BPAEC migration (IC50 = 0.71 +/- 0.11 microM, n = 4) and basic fibroblast growth factor-induced angiogenesis in the chick chorioallantoic membrane model. Taken together, these results suggest that promotion of endothelial cell apoptosis, thereby inhibiting endothelial cell proliferation and migration, may be a major mechanism by which 2-ME inhibits angiogenesis.

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