The cardioprotective effect of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in healthy, postmenopausal women is well documented. Little work has been performed on the effect of HRT in peripheral arteries. Recent work suggests that HRT may adversely affect the patency of peripheral grafts. This study investigates the in vitro effects of estrogen and/or progesterone exposure on adhesion molecule expression by normal human female iliac artery endothelial cells (HIAEC). Control and interleukin-1β (IL-1β)-stimulated HIAEC monolayers were labeled with fluorescent-tagged antibodies against the adhesion molecules VCAM-1, ICAM-1, PECAM, and E-selectin. FACS analysis was used to measure antibody-labeled adhesion molecule expression. ICAM-1 and PECAM were found to be constitutively expressed. VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression were significantly upregulated by IL-1β, while E-selectin was neither constitutively expressed nor upregulated by IL-1β. Pretreatment with estrogen or progesterone alone decreased IL-1β-stimulated VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression, but not to statistically significant levels. Combined hormone exposure significantly decreased, in an additive fashion, the expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 in stimulated cells. This study supports extension of the beneficial effects ascribed to HRT to include the peripheral arterial endothelium of healthy women.
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