Effects of estrogen on cerebrovascular function: Age-dependent shifts from beneficial to detrimental in small cerebral arteries of the rat

Rachel R. Deer, John N. Stallone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In the present study, interactions of age and estrogen in the modulation of cerebrovascular function were examined in small arteries <150 μM. The hypothesis tested was that age enhances deleterious effects of exogenous estrogen by augmenting constrictor prostanoid (CP)-potentiated reactivity of the female (F) cerebrovasculature. F Sprague-Dawley rats approximating key stages of “hormonal aging” in humans were studied: perimenopausal (mature multi-gravid, MA, cyclic, 5–6 mo of age) and postmenopausal (reproductively senescent, RS, acyclic 10–12 mo of age). Rats underwent bilateral ovariectomy and were given estrogen replacement therapy (E) or placebo (O) for 14–21 days. Vasopressin reactivity (VP, 10−12–10−7 M) was measured in pressurized middle cerebral artery segments, alone or in the presence of COX-1-(SC560, 1 μM) or COX-2-(NS398, 10 μM) selective inhibitors. VP-stimulated release of prostacyclin (PGI2) and thromboxane (TXA2) were assessed by radioimmunoassay of 6-keto-PGF and TXB2 (stable metabolites). VP-induced vasoconstriction was attenuated in ovariectomized + estrogen-replaced, multigravid adult rats (5–6 mo; MAE) but potentiated in older ovariectomized + estrogen-replaced, reproductively senescent rats (12–14 mo; RSE). SC560 and NS398 reduced reactivity similarly in ovariectomized multigravid adult rats (5–6 mo; MAO) and ovariectomized reproductively senescent rat (12–14 mo; RSO). In MAE, reactivity to VP was reduced to a greater extent by SC560 than by NS398; however, in RSE, this effect was reversed. VP-stimulated PGI2 was increased by estrogen, yet reduced by age. VP-stimulated TXA2 was increased by estrogen and age in RSE but did not differ in MAO and RSO. Taken together, these data reveal that the vascular effects of estrogen are distinctly age-dependent in F rats. In younger MA, beneficial and protective effects of estrogen are evident (decreased vasoconstriction, increased dilator prostanoid function). Conversely, in older RS, detrimental effects of estrogen begin to be manifested (enhanced vasoconstriction and CP function). These findings may lead to age-specific estrogen replacement therapies that maximize beneficial and minimize detrimental effects of this hormone on small cerebral arteries that regulate blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1285-H1294
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Prostacyclin
  • Thromboxane
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of estrogen on cerebrovascular function: Age-dependent shifts from beneficial to detrimental in small cerebral arteries of the rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this