Effects of Estrogen on Cardiovascular Injury in Ovariectomized Female DahlS.Z-Leprfa/Leprfa Rats as a New Animal Model of Metabolic Syndrome

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Although recent clinical trials have found an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease in women on estrogen replacement therapy, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We have recently characterized DahlS.Z-Leprfa/Leprfa (DS/obese) rats, derived from a cross between Dahl salt-sensitive and Zucker rats, as a new animal model of metabolic syndrome. We have now examined the effects of estrogen replacement on cardiac pathophysiology in ovariectomized female DS/obese (Ovx-DS/obese) rats. Animals subjected to ovariectomy at 7 weeks of age were implanted subcutaneously with a 60-day release pellet containing 0.5 mg of 17β-estradiol (E2) or placebo at 8 weeks. Age-matched female homozygous lean littermates (DahlS.Z-Lepr+/Lepr+ or DS/lean rats) of DS/obese rats served as controls. Animals were maintained on a normal diet and were subjected to echocardiography followed by various pathological analyses at 13 weeks of age. Ovx-DS/obese rats manifested hypertension at 7 weeks of age and thereafter and showed left ventricular (LV) fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction at 13 weeks. Treatment with E2 attenuated hypertension in Ovx-DS/obese rats but had no effect on blood pressure in ovariectomized female DS/lean (Ovx-DS/lean) rats. E2 treatment exacerbated LV fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction, as well as further increased cardiac oxidative stress and inflammation in Ovx-DS/obese rats, and it elicited similar effects in Ovx-DS/lean rats. E2 reduced food intake, body weight, and visceral fat content in both Ovx-DS/obese and Ovx-DS/lean rats. E2 treatment attenuated hypertension and obesity but exacerbated LV fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction in Ovx-DS/obese rats, with these latter effects being associated with increased cardiac oxidative stress and inflammation.

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