Methoxyestradiols mediate estradiol-induced antimitogenesis in human aortic SMCS

Federica Barchiesi, Edwin K. Jackson, Delbert G. Gillespie, Lefteris C. Zacharia, Juergen Fingerle, Raghvendra K. Dubey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estrogen receptors (ERs) are considered to mediate the ability of 17β-estradiol (estradiol) to reduce injury-induced proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), leading to vascular lesions. However, the finding that estradiol attenuates formation of vascular lesions in response to vascular injury in knockout mice that lack either ER-α or ER-β challenges this concept. Our hypothesis is that the local metabolism of estradiol to methoxyestradiols, metabolites of estradiol with little affinity for ERs, mediates the ER-independent antimitogenic effects of estradiol on VSMCs. In human VSMCs, 2-methoxyestradiol and 2-hydroxyestradiol were more potent than was estradiol in inhibiting DNA synthesis (3[H]-thymidine incorporation), collagen synthesis (3[H]-proline incorporation), cell proliferation (cell number), and cell migration (movement of cells across a polycarbonate membrane). The inhibitory effects of estradiol on VSMCs were enhanced by cytochrome-P450 (CYP450) inducers 3-methylcholanthrene and phenobarbital. Moreover, the inhibitory effects of estradiol were blocked in the presence of the CYP450 inhibitor 1-aminobenzotriazole and the catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors quercetin and OR486. Both OR486 and quercetin blocked the conversion of 2-hydroxyestradiol to 2-methoxyestradiol; moreover, they blocked the antimitogenic effects of 2-hydroxyestradiol but not of 2-methoxyestradiol. The ER antagonist ICI182780 blocked the inhibitor effects of estradiol on VSMCs, but only at concentrations (>50 μmol/L) that also inhibit the metabolism of estradiol to hydroxyestradiols (precursors of methoxyestradiols). In conclusion, the inhibitory effects of locally applied estradiol on human VSMCs are mediated via a novel ER-independent mechanism involving estradiol metabolism. These findings imply that vascular estradiol metabolism may be an important determinant of the cardiovascular protective effects of estradiol and that nonfeminizing estradiol metabolites may confer cardiovascular protection regardless of gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-879
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Estrogen
  • Hormones
  • Menopause
  • Metabolism
  • Remodeling


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