Sex hormone replacement therapy reverses decreased venous distensibility in pharmacologically ovariectomized rats

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Objective: To test the effect of female sex hormone depletion and replacement on the distensibility and geometry of the saphenous vein in female rats. Design: Twenty Sprague-Dawley rats were pharmacologically ovariectomized by triptorelin. Ten of these animals received combined hormone replacement with estradiol and medroxyprogesterone acetate. The rest were given vehicle. Ten animals kept parallel without pharmacological ovariectomy served as controls. After 3 months of treatment, a segment of the saphenous vein was dissected. Pressure-diameter curves were recorded in relaxed, contracted, and control states using a microangiograph. Results: Pharmacological ovariectomy lowered venous wall distensibility measured in contraction (at P=8 mm Hg: 4.41 ± 1.21*10-3 m2/N vs. control: 0.79 ± 0.14*10-3 m2/N; p < 0.05). Hormone replacement partially restored this value (1.8 ± 0.49*10-3 m2/N). No alterations in distensibility were found in the relaxed state. After adjusting for body weight, we found that pharmacological ovariectomy lowered venous inner radius significantly compared with control (p < 0.05), whereas hormone replacement increased it compared with pharmacological ovariectomy (p < 0.05) and more significantly compared with control (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Sex hormone depletion induces significant alterations in venous distensibility, presumably by inducing initial remodeling of the venous wall. Hormone dependency of distensibility differed in relaxed and contracted states of the vein, so some alterations of contractile elements of the wall may be hypothesized. Lower distensibility of the venous wall found after pharmacological ovariectomy could be part of the mechanism of predisposition for postmenopausal hypertension. This can be reversed by female sex hormone replacement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-209
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2001


  • Distensibility
  • Estrogen
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Menopause
  • Progesterone
  • Saphenous vein
  • Vascular pathophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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