Gender–dependent Influence of Endogenous Estrogen in Pulmonary Hypertension.


Source: ATS Journals


Rationale: The incidence of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is greater in women suggesting estrogens may play a role in the disease pathogenesis. Experimentally, in males exogenously administered estrogen can protect against PH; however in models that display female susceptibility estrogens may play a causative role. Objectives: To clarify the influence of endogenous estrogen and gender in PH and assess the therapeutic potential of a clinically available aromatase inhibitor. Methods: We interrogated the effect of reduced endogenous estrogen in males and females using the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole, in two models of PH; the hypoxic mouse and Sugen 5416/hypoxic rat. We also determined the effects of gender on pulmonary expression of aromatase in these models and in lungs from PAH patients. Results: Anastrozole attenuated PH in both models studied, but only in females. To verify this effect was due to reduced estrogenic activity we confirmed that in hypoxic mice inhibition of estrogen receptor alpha also has a therapeutic effect specifically in females. Female rodent lung displays increased aromatase and decreased BMPR2 and Id1 expression compared to male. Anastrozole treatment reversed the impaired BMPR2 pathway in females. Increased aromatase expression was also detected in female human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells compared to male. Conclusions: The unique phenotype of female pulmonary arteries facilitates the therapeutic effects of anastrozole in experimental PH confirming a role for endogenous estrogen in the disease pathogenesis in females and suggests aromatase inhibitors may have therapeutic potential.

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