Medroxyprogesterone acetate antagonizes inhibitory effects of conjugated equine estrogens on coronary artery atherosclerosis

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 Jan;17(1):217-21. doi: 10.1161/01.atv.17.1.217.


Although estrogen replacement therapy is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease and reduced extent of coronary artery atherosclerosis, the effects of combined (estrogen plus progestin) hormone-replacement therapy are uncertain. Some observational data indicate that users of combined hormone replacement consisting of continuously administered oral conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) and oral sequentially administered (7 to 14 days per month) medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) experience a reduction in risk similar to that of users of CEE alone. However, the effects of combined, continuously administered CEE plus MPA (a prescribing pattern that has gained favor) on the risk of coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis are not known. We studied the effects of CEE (monkey equivalent of 0.625 mg/d) and MPA (monkey equivalent of 2.5 mg/d), administered separately or in combination, on the extent of coronary artery atherosclerosis (average plaque size) in surgically postmenopausal cynomolgus monkeys fed atherogenic diets and treated with these hormones for 30 months. Treatment with CEE alone resulted in atherosclerosis extent that was reduced 72% relative to untreated (estrogen-deficient) controls (P < .004). Atherosclerosis extent in animals treated with CEE plus MPA or MPA alone did not differ from that of untreated controls. Although treatment had marked effects on plasma lipoprotein patterns, statistical adjustment for variation in plasma lipoproteins did not alter the between-group relationships in atherosclerotic plaque size, suggesting that these factors do not explain substantially the atheroprotective effect of estrogen or the MPA-associated antagonism. Although the mechanism(s) remains unclear, we conclude that oral CEE inhibits the initiation and progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis and that continuously administered oral MPA antagonizes this atheroprotective effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Coronary Artery Disease / chemically induced*
  • Drug Antagonism
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / administration & dosage*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Progesterone Congeners / administration & dosage*


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone Congeners
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate