Estrogen has a plethora of effects in the cardiovascular system. Studies of estrogen and the heart span human clinical trials and basic cell and molecular investigations. Greater understanding of cell and molecular responses to estrogens can provide further insights into the findings of clinical studies. Differences in expression and cellular/intracellular distribution of the two main receptors, estrogen receptor (ER) α and β, are thought to account for the specificity and differences in responses to estrogen. Much remains to be learned in this area, but cellular distribution within the cardiovascular system is becoming clearer. Identification of GPER as a third ER has introduced further complexity to the system. 17β-estradiol (E2), the most potent human estrogen, clearly has protective properties activating a signaling cascade leading to cellular protection and also influencing expression of the protective heat shock proteins (HSP). E2 protects the heart from ischemic injury in basic studies, but the picture is more involved in the whole organism and clinical studies. Here the complexity of E2's widespread effects comes into play and makes interpretation of findings more challenging. Estrogen loss occurs primarily with aging, but few studies have used aged models despite clear evidence of differences between the response to estrogen deficiency in adult and aged animals. Thus more work is needed focusing on the effects of aging vs. estrogen loss on the cardiovascular system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology