Gender differences in the vasomotor effects of different steroid hormones in rat pulmonary and coronary arteries

Horm Metab Res. 2001 Nov;33(11):645-52. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-18689.


It is well recognised that oestrogens possess vasodilatory properties, and similar responses to testosterone have been demonstrated. However, vasomotor effects of other steroid hormones have not been well described. Direct comparisons of the relative vasoactivity of different steroid hormones in different vascular beds in male and female genders have not been made. Coronary and pulmonary arteries from adult Wistar rats were mounted in a wire myograph, loaded to 100 and 17 mmHg respectively, maximally pre-contracted with 1 x 10(-4) M prostaglandin-F-2-alpha, and dose response curves to 1 x 10(-6) to 1 x 10(-3) or 3 x 10(-3) M of 17 beta-oestradiol, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol dissolved in water were constructed. Addition of each steroid hormone caused acute, dose dependent dilatation in coronary and pulmonary vessels. In coronary arteries the order of activity was testosterone > progesterone > 17 beta-oestradiol > cortisol, p < 0.001. In pulmonary arteries, the order of activity was progesterone > testosterone > cortisol > 17 beta-oestradiol, p < 0.001. Pulmonary arteries from male animals were more sensitive to the effects of testosterone than those from female animals, p = 0.003, whereas coronary arteries from female animals were more sensitive to the effects of 17 beta-oestradiol than those from male animals, p < 0.001. We have demonstrated significant differences in the in vitro vasomotor effects of different steroid hormones in two distinct vascular beds. Gender differences in vasomotor responses to steroid hormones may play a role in the aetiology of vasospastic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coronary Vessels / drug effects*
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Myography
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sex Factors
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasomotor System / drug effects*


  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Hydrocortisone