University of Oulu

Effect of estrogen replacement therapy on metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in hysterectomized postmenopausal women

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Author: Karjalainen, Anna1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
2University of Oulu, Biocenter Oulu
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2003
Publish Date: 2003-12-19
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium 10 of Oulu University Hospital, on December 19th, 2003, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Timo Kuusi
Professor Jorma Viikari


Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) has been associated with favorable effects on risk factors for atherosclerosis. In observational studies ERT was also suggested to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women, but the cardioprotective role of estrogen has been challenged after negative results in randomized trials. However, the mechanisms of estrogen action in atherosclerosis development are only partially known.

In order to investigate the regulation of plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in postmenopausal women and the effects of ERT on cholesterol and glucose metabolism and blood pressure, 79 hysterectomized, non-diabetic postmenopausal women were randomized in a double-blind, double-dummy study to receive either peroral estradiol valerate (2 mg/day) or transdermal 17β-estradiol gel (1 mg estradiol/day) for six months.

At baseline the level of LDL cholesterol was related to body mass index, the fractional catabolic rate (FCR) and the production of LDL apolipoprotein B (apo B), but not to cholesterol absorption efficiency. Both peroral and transdermal ERT decreased plasma total and LDL cholesterol, while high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides increased only in the peroral group. The LDL-lowering response was related to changes in estrogen levels, which presumably enhance LDL receptor activity shown as an increase in FCR for LDL apo B. In contrast, the determined genetic factors, apo E phenotype, EcoRI and XbaI polymorphisms of the apo B gene and polymorphism of 7α-hydroxylase gene, were not significant in regulation of LDL cholesterol, neither did they modify the response of ERT in these postmenopausal women.

Similar outcomes were observed with both peroral and transdermal ERT as regards glucose metabolism and blood pressure. The overall effect of ERT on glucose tolerance was found to be neutral. Blood pressure decreased among non-hypertensive subjects on both estrogens, which could be related, at least in part, to the alterations in vasoactive peptides.

The data of the present study suggest an overall favorable effect of both peroral and transdermal estrogen on common cardiovascular risk factors. However, the clinical significance of these findings in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases needs to be proven in long-term, randomized trials.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7240-4
ISBN Print: 951-42-7239-0
Issue: 773
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2003. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.