Estrogen modulates responses of atherosclerotic coronary arteries.
Although evidence indicates that estrogen replacement therapy reduces risk of coronary heart disease, the mechanism remains unknown. Among the possibilities are that estrogen replacement therapy may 1) inhibit growth of atherosclerotic plaque and 2) decrease the prevalence of transient myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction by modulating vasomotion in atherosclerotic coronary arteries. Using quantitative coronary angiography, we determined vasomotor responses of atherosclerotic coronary arteries in ovariectomized cynomolgus monkeys; six were given physiological estrogen "replacement" by subcutaneous implants, and six were not. Intracoronary infusion of the endothelium-dependent dilator acetylcholine (1 X 10(-6) M) caused paradoxical constriction of coronary arteries (from 1.2 +/- 0.2 to 0.6 +/- 0.1 mm, p less than 0.05) in the estrogen-deficient monkeys. However, acetylcholine tended to minimally dilate the left circumflex coronary artery in estrogen-treated monkeys (from 1.2 +/- 0.2 to 1.5 +/- 0.2 mm, p greater than 0.2). Although estrogen replacement therapy reduced plaque extent in coronary arteries, altered vasomotion was not related to plaque extent. We conclude that estrogen modulates vasomotion of atherosclerotic coronary arteries of monkeys and speculate that estrogen-modulated constrictor responses of atherosclerotic coronary arteries may reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association