Aromatase and estrogen receptor immunoreactivity in the coronary arteries of monkeys and human subjects

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Objective:The objective of this study was to determine whether estrogen could be formed locally in the coronary arteries.Design:Coronary arteries were examined from monkeys (Macaca fascicularis, one male and one female) and human subjects (one premenopausal woman, one postmenopausal woman, and one man) by immunocytochemistry, using purified antisera against human placental estrogen synthetase (aromatase) and ER α. The arteries were graded for the amount of atherosclerosis.Results:There was clear immunopositivity for both aromatase and estrogen receptors in all arteries studied. Although all endothelial cells (CD31 positive) stained for both antigens, the staining in macrophages, fibroblasts, and smooth muscle cells was irregular.Conclusion:The present results provide the first evidence for the local formation of estrogen in the coronary arteries. In addition to complementing the evidence of a cardioprotective effect of estrogen on the coronary circulation, our results highlight the potential importance of local regulation of estrogen formation and the role of available precursor androgens in maintaining the cardiovascular system.

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