Menopause and ovariectomy cause a low grade of systemic inflammation that may be prevented by chronic treatment with low doses of estrogen or losartan

J Immunol. 2009 Jul 15;183(2):1393-402. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803157. Epub 2009 Jun 24.


The incidence of cardiovascular diseases in premenopausal women is lower than in men or postmenopausal women. This study reports the discovery of a low grade of systemic inflammation, including monocyte adhesion to arterial endothelium, elicited by menopause or estrogen depletion. Chronic treatment with low dose of 17-beta-estradiol or inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system reduced this inflammation. Using an in vitro flow chamber system with human arterial and venous endothelial cells, we found that leukocytes from healthy postmenopausal women were more adhesive to the arterial endothelium than those from premenopausal women regardless of the stimulus used on endothelial cells. Increased circulating levels of IL-8, MCP-1, RANTES, and MIP-1alpha and monocyte CD11b expression were also encountered in postmenopausal vs premenopausal subjects. This translational data led us to investigate the mechanisms in Sprague-Dawley rats. Using intravital microscopy, we imaged mesenteric arterioles and found significant increases in arteriolar leukocyte adhesion, cell adhesion molecule expression, and plasma levels of cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant (CINC/KC), MCP-1, and MIP-1alpha in 1-mo ovariectomized rats. Chronic treatment of ovariectomized rats with low dose of 17-beta-estradiol, losartan, both, or benazepril inhibited ovariectomy-induced arteriolar mononuclear leukocyte adhesion by 77%, 58%, 92%, and 65% respectively, partly by inhibition of cell adhesion molecule up-regulation and the increase in circulating chemokines. These results demonstrate that menopause and ovariectomy generate a low grade of systemic inflammation. Therefore, administration of low doses of estrogens or inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system, at early stages of estrogen deficiency, might prevent the systemic inflammation associated with menopause and decrease the risk of suffering further cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / administration & dosage
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / blood
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Leukocytes
  • Losartan / administration & dosage*
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovariectomy / adverse effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Benzazepines
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Chemokines
  • Estrogens
  • Losartan
  • benazepril