Extent of Vascular Remodeling Is Dependent on the Balance Between Estrogen Receptor α and G-Protein–Coupled Estrogen Receptor

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Estrogens are important regulators of cardiovascular function. Some of estrogen’s cardiovascular effects are mediated by a G-protein–coupled receptor mechanism, namely, G-protein–coupled estrogen receptor (GPER). Estradiol-mediated regulation of vascular cell programmed cell death reflects the balance of the opposing actions of GPER versus estrogen receptor α (ERα). However, the significance of these opposing actions on the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation or migration in vitro is unclear, and the significance in vivo is unknown. To determine the effects of GPER activation in vitro, we studied rat aortic vascular smooth muscle cells maintained in primary culture. GPER was reintroduced using adenoviral gene transfer. Both estradiol and G1, a GPER agonist, inhibited both proliferation and cell migration effects that were blocked by the GPER antagonist, G15. To determine the importance of the GPER-ERα balance in regulating vascular remodeling in a rat model of carotid ligation, we studied the effects of upregulation of GPER expression versus downregulation of ERα. Reintroduction of GPER significantly attenuated the extent of medial hypertrophy and attenuated the extent of CD45 labeling. Downregulation of ERα expression comparably attenuated the extent of medial hypertrophy and inflammation after carotid ligation. These studies demonstrate that the balance between GPER and ERα regulates vascular remodeling. Receptor-specific modulation of estrogen’s effects may be an important new approach in modifying vascular remodeling in both acute settings like vascular injury and perhaps in longer term regulation like in hypertension.

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