Blood vessels express estrogen receptors, but their role in cardiovascular physiology is not well understood. We show that vascular smooth muscle cells and blood vessels from estrogen receptor β (ERβ) - deficient mice exhibit multiple functional abnormalities. In wild-type mouse blood vessels, estrogen attenuates vasoconstriction by an ERβ-mediated increase in inducible nitric oxide synthase expression. In contrast, estrogen augments vasoconstriction in blood vessels from ERβ-deficient mice. Vascular smooth muscle cells isolated from ERβ-deficient mice show multiple abnormalities of ion channel function. Furthermore, ERβ-deficient mice develop sustained systolic and diastolic hypertension as they age. These data support an essential role for ERβ in the regulation of vascular function and blood pressure.
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