Cystathionine γ-lyase promotes estrogen-stimulated uterine artery blood flow via glutathione homeostasis

Redox Biol. 2021 Apr:40:101827. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101827. Epub 2020 Dec 8.


During pregnancy, estrogen (E2) stimulates uterine artery blood flow (UBF) by enhancing nitric oxide (NO)-dependent vasodilation. Cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE) promotes vascular NO signaling by producing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and by maintaining the ratio of reduced-to-oxidized intracellular glutathione (GSH/GSSG) through l-cysteine production. Because redox homeostasis can influence NO signaling, we hypothesized that CSE mediates E2 stimulation of UBF by modulating local intracellular cysteine metabolism and GSH/GSSG levels to promote redox homeostasis. Using non-pregnant ovariectomized WT and CSE-null (CSE KO) mice, we performed micro-ultrasound of mouse uterine and renal arteries to assess changes in blood flow upon exogenous E2 stimulation. We quantified serum and uterine artery NO metabolites (NOx), serum amino acids, and uterine and renal artery GSH/GSSG. WT and CSE KO mice exhibited similar baseline uterine and renal blood flow. Unlike WT, CSE KO mice did not exhibit expected E2 stimulation of UBF. Renal blood flow was E2-insensitive for both genotypes. While serum and uterine artery NOx were similar between genotypes at baseline, E2 decreased NOx in CSE KO serum. Cysteine was also lower in CSE KO serum, while citrulline and homocysteine levels were elevated. E2 and CSE deletion additively decreased GSH/GSSG in uterine arteries. In contrast, renal artery GSH/GSSG was insensitive to E2 or CSE deletion. Together, these findings suggest that CSE maintenance of uterine artery GSH/GSSG facilitates nitrergic signaling in uterine arteries and is required for normal E2 stimulation of UBF. These data have implications for pregnancy pathophysiology and the selective hormone responses of specific vascular beds.

Keywords: Cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE); Estrogen; Glutathione (GSH); Nitric oxide (NO); Oxidative stress; Progesterone; Renal artery; Uterine blood flow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase* / genetics
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Glutathione
  • Homeostasis
  • Hydrogen Sulfide*
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine Artery


  • Estrogens
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase
  • Glutathione
  • Hydrogen Sulfide