Molecular Physiology

Keeping Blood Pressure Low

Science's STKE  22 Jan 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 116, pp. tw41
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.116.tw41

Estrogens are steroid hormones best known for their effects in female reproductive tissues. However, estrogens also have physiologically important roles in both sexes. Zhu et al. examined vascular function in mice lacking the β form of the estrogen receptor (ERβ). Instead of the relaxing effect normally seen, they observed an estrogen-induced constriction of blood-vessel walls. In the ERβ-knockout animals, estrogen increased expression of nitric oxide synthase, which produces the contractile agent nitric oxide. These animals also developed hypertension as they aged, which may yield new insights into the treatment of hypertension, particularly that associated with menopause.

Y. Zhu, Z. Bian, P. Lu, R. H. Karas, L. Bao, D. Cox, J. Hodgin, P. W. Shaul, P. Thorén, O. Smithies, J.-Å. Gustafsson, M. E. Mendelsohn, Abnormal vascular function and hypertension in mice deficient in estrogen receptor β. Science 295, 505-508 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]