Among sex steroids, especially estrogen metabolism has been considered to play a role in the function and pathology of human veins. We investigated the expression and activity of the estrogen-producing enzyme aromatase and estrogen receptor (ER) in human vena cava to assess possible in situ biosynthesis of estrogens and their modes of action. We first examined aromatase expression by immunohistochemistry in human inferior vena cava obtained from 29 autopsy cases (11 males, 18 females, 63.6±3.0 years old). We then semiquantitated the level of aromatase mRNA by reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction in 24 cases and aromatase activity by 3H-water assay in 15 cases to examine whether or not and in which cell types aromatase was expressed. We also studied alternative use of multiple exon 1s of its gene and immunolocalization of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type I (17β-HSD I), which converts estrone produced by aromatase to estradiol, a biologically active estrogen and ER. Aromatase and 17β-HSD I immunoreactivity were both detected in smooth muscle cells (SMC) of the media in all the cases and in endothelial cells (EC) in 20 and 22 cases, respectively. ER immunoreactivity was detected in SMC of vena cava in 21 cases. The amount of aromatase mRNA was significantly greater in the cases utilizing 1c (I.3) or 1d (P.II) of exon 1 (9 cases, 191.1±26.3 attomol/ng total RNA) than those utilizing 1b (I.4) as the promoter (14 cases, 50.6±13.0 attomol/ng total RNA) (p < 0.01). Significant correlation (p < 0.05) was observed between the amount of aromatase mRNA and aromatase activity in 15 cases examined. No significant correlation was detected between the amount of aromatase mRNA or aromatase labeling index and the ER status. These results suggest that estrone and estradiol are produced in the human vena cava and that their production is mediated by aromatase and 17β- HSD I, respectively but not all of these locally synthesized estrogens may not work directly in situ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism