Estrogen may lower women's risk of heart disease by working as damper on inflammation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Estrogen's ability to reduce a woman's risk of heart disease during her reproductive years may be based on a previously unexamined mechanism of the hormone: its anti-inflammatory effects.

In the first demonstration in humans of this capacity of estrogen, endocrine researchers at the University at Buffalo have shown that estrogen may suppress production of several pro-inflammatory components at the cellular, molecular and plasma levels.

Results of this preliminary study were presented here today (June 20, 2002) at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

"If estrogen has a prominent anti-inflammatory effect, this action may help to explain why women have a much lower risk of atherosclerosis (which begins as an inflammation of the blood vessel walls) than men until menopause," said Paresh Dandona, M.D., UB professor of medicine and head of the Division of Endocrinology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who is senior author on the study. "Once women hit menopause, their heart-disease risk rises to that of men.

"This is the first demonstration in vivo of estrogen's precise molecule anti-inflammatory behavior," he said.

In this preliminary study, Dandona and colleagues from the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York, located in Kaleida Health's Millard Fillmore Hospital, used men as subjects to avoid the estrogen fluctuations that take place during a woman's menstrual cycle, which would interfere with results.

Nine healthy men of normal weight with a mean age of 32 provided blood samples before receiving a 5 mg. injection of estrogen in the form of Premarin, the most commonly prescribed drug for estrogen-replacement therapy. Dandona chose this amount of estrogen for a "single slug," which is about four times the upper limit contained in daily doses of hormone-replacement therapy, to determine if an anti-inflammatory effect would occur over the short-term. Additional blood samples

Contact: Lois Baker
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo

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