Functional characterization and sex differences in small mesenteric arteries of the estrogen receptor-β knockout mouse

Gillian Douglas, M. Natalia Cruz, Lucilla Poston, Jan-Ake Gustafsson, Karolina Kublickiene

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21 Scopus citations


The role of the estrogen receptor (ER) subtypes in the modulation of vascular function is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to characterize ex vivo the functional properties of small arteries and their response to estrogens in the mesenteric circulation of female and male ER-β knockout mice (β-ERKO) and their wild-type (WT) littermates. Responses to changes in intraluminal flow and pressure were obtained before and after incubation with 17β-estradiol or ER-α agonist propyl-pyrazole-triol (3 h; 10 nM). Cumulative concentration-response curves to acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and passive distensibility were compared with respect to sex and genotype. The collagen and elastin content within the vascular wall and ER expression were also determined. Endothelial morphology was visualized by scanning electron microscopy. 17β-Estradiol and propyl-pyrazole-triol- treated arteries from female β-ERKO and WT mice showed enhanced flow-mediated dilation, but this was not evident in males. Distensibility was decreased in arteries from β-ERKO females. Sex differences in myogenic tone were observed in 17β-estradiol-treated arteries, but were similar between β-ERKO and WT mice. Acetylcholine- and norepinephrine-induced responses were similar between groups and sexes. ER-α was similarly expressed in the endothelium and media of arteries from all groups studied, as well as ER-β in WT animals. Endothelial morphology was similar in arteries from animals of both sexes and genotype; however, arterial elastin content was decreased, and collagen content was increased in β-ERKO male compared with WT male and with β-ERKO female. We suggest that ERs play a sex-specific role in estrogen-mediated flow responses and distensibility, and that deletion of ER-β affects artery structure but only in male animals. Further studies in β-ERKO mice with established hypertension and in α-ERKO mice are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Arteries
  • Estrogens
  • Knockout
  • Mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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