Human umbilical vascular endothelial cells express estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) and progesterone receptor A (PR-A), but not ERalpha and PR-B

Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Aug;130(2):399-405. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0426-7. Epub 2008 Apr 18.


Several reports deal with possible effects of female sex hormones on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) including elasticity, activation of plasma membrane Na+/H+ exchange, VEGF receptor Flk-1/KDR and many others. In contrast to those findings, some publications pointed out that HUVEC lack expression of both the estrogen receptor (ER) and/or the progesterone receptor (PR). Because the majority of these investigations were carried out at a time period, when only one ER and one PR was known, the aim of this study was the systematic analysis of ERalpha and ERbeta as well as PR-A and PR-B expression in HUVEC with specific monoclonal antibodies by immunocytochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR (TaqMan). As a result, we could show that HUVEC lack ERalpha but express ERbeta. The expression of ERbeta could be significantly upregulated with 17beta-estradiol on mRNA and protein level. In addition, HUVEC express PR-A but not PR-B. PR-A expression could be significantly upregulated with progesterone, again on mRNA and protein level. We conclude that estrogenic effects on HUVEC are mediated via the ERbeta and gestagens act via the PR-A pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / immunology
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / biosynthesis*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Receptors, Progesterone / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / immunology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Umbilical Cord / cytology
  • Umbilical Cord / drug effects
  • Umbilical Cord / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • progesterone receptor A
  • progesterone receptor B
  • Estradiol