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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prolonged infusions of estradiol dilate the ovine fetal pulmonary circulation.

Factors mediating both the rapid and sustained fall in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) at birth are incompletely understood. Acute or prolonged estrogen treatment causes vasodilation of several vascular beds in adults. Although fetal estrogen levels rise in late gestation, their effects in the fetal pulmonary circulation have not been studied. To determine whether estrogens can cause pulmonary vasodilation in the fetus, we infused 17beta-estradiol (E2) into the left pulmonary artery (LPA) of chronically catheterized fetal lambs, measured pulmonary artery pressure and LPA blood flow, and calculated PVR. Brief E2 administration (1-, 10-, and 100-microg doses) did not change baseline pulmonary hemodynamics and failed to enhance endothelium-dependent vasodilation as assessed by the dilator response to acetylcholine. However, prolonged E2 infusion (2- 8 d) caused a 2.6-fold increase in pulmonary blood flow (73+/-6 versus 188+/-44 mL/min, baseline versus E2 treatment, p<0.05), and the response was sustained for at least several hours. Treatment with the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor nitro-L-arginine (L-NA) reversed the E2-induced fall in PVR (0.15+/-0.05 versus 0.51+/-0.15 mm Hg/mL/min; before versus after L-NA, p<0.05). Endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and endothelin-1 content were not different in E2-responders and controls, suggesting that altered expression of these mediators did not account for the increased flow. We conclude that prolonged E2 infusion causes an unusual pattern of vasodilation in the ovine fetal lung. On the basis of these observations of exogenous E2 treatment, we speculate that endogenous E2 enhances pulmonary vasodilation at birth.[1]


  1. Prolonged infusions of estradiol dilate the ovine fetal pulmonary circulation. Parker, T.A., Kinsella, J.P., Galan, H.L., Le Cras, T.D., Richter, G.T., Markham, N.E., Abman, S.H. Pediatr. Res. (2000) [Pubmed]
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