Estrogen, SERMS reduce asthma impact by halting constriction

San Diego (April 3, 2005) For years, anecdotal evidence suggested that ovulating or pregnant women or post-menopausal women taking estrogen supplements, experienced fewer asthma attacks and less severe asthma symptoms, strongly suggesting that perhaps estrogen affects airway smooth muscle function by preventing the hyperresponsiveness characteristic of asthma and other chronic lung diseases.

Now, scientists at the Medical College of Georgia have shown that elevated estrogen levels may reduce the severity of asthma and perhaps of other chronic lung diseases involving airway constriction. Christiana Dimitropoulou and her team at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology report that estrogen, as well as selective estrogen receptor modifiers (SERMs), completely abolished abnormal tracheal constriction in a carbachol test.

Carbachol is often used to stimulate, or mimic, contractions of airway and other muscles. The Georgia researchers found that hyperresponsiveness of mouse tracheal rings to carbachol was completely prevented with only 30 minutes of estrogen treatment. Then they repeated the tests with SERMs, such as tamoxifen, and found they were equally able prevent the exaggerated constriction to allergen seen in asthmatic-induced airways.

"This could represent a new and potentially important role for estrogen, SERMs, or both," Dimitropoulou said. She is presenting the research at the 35th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences in San Diego, March 31 - April 5.

*Paper presentation: "Estrogens prevent the tracheal hyper-responsiveness to carbachol in asthma," 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Sunday April 3, Physiology 375.5/board #A492. On view 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The full team includes: Christiana Dimitropoulou, Shu Zhu, Richard E. White and John D. Catravas of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, and Dennis Ownby of the Department of Pedatrics; Catravas also is with th


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