Hormonal regulation of pro-inflammatory and lipid peroxidation processes in liver of old ovariectomized female rats

Biogerontology. 2010 Apr;11(2):229-43. doi: 10.1007/s10522-009-9242-2. Epub 2009 Jul 26.


There is now a large body of evidence suggesting that the decline in ovarian function with menopause is associated with spontaneous increases in pro-inflammatory cytokines. On the other hand, oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several alterations due to menopause, and can arise through the increased production of lipid peroxides (LPO) and/or a deficiency of antioxidant defense. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of aging and ovariectomy on various physiological parameters related to inflammation and oxidative stress in livers obtained from old female rats and the influence of chronic exogenous administration of estrogens, phytoestrogens and growth hormone on these. Thirty-six female Wistar rats of 22 months of age were used in the present study. Twelve of them remained intact, and the other 24 had been ovariectomized at 12 months of age. Intact animals were divided into two groups and treated for 10 weeks with GH or saline, and ovariectomized animals were divided into four groups and treated for the same time with GH, estrogens, phytoestrogens or saline. A group of 2 month old intact female rats was used as young control. Protein expression of iNOS, HO-1, IL-6, TNFalpha, and IL-1beta were determined by Western blot analysis. The levels of NO( x ), LPO, TNFalpha, IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-10 were determined in different fractions of the liver. Levels of LPO in the liver homogenates as well as iNOS protein expression and NO( x ) levels were increased in old rats as compared to young animals; this effect was more evident in ovariectomized animals. Pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 were significantly increased and anti-inflammatory IL-10 decreased during ageing and after ovariectomy. Aging also significantly increased expression of HO-1 protein and ovariectomized rats showed an additional increase. Hormonal administration to the ovariectomized groups decreased NO( x ), LPO levels and pro-inflammatory cytokines as compared with untreated rats. Significant rise in IL-10 and reductions in the iNOS, IL-6, TNFalpha and IL-1beta proteins expression were also found. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced during aging in the liver are more marked in castrated than in intact old females. Administration of the different hormonal replacement therapies was able to inhibit the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and iNOS, decreased the levels of oxidative stress markers and had therapeutic potential in the prevention of liver injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects*
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Models, Animal
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Ovariectomy*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Cytokines
  • Estrogens
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Growth Hormone
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • HMOX1 protein, human
  • Heme Oxygenase-1