Mortality from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is lower in premenopausal women than in age-matched men. It is also lower in postmenopausal women who take estrogens and progestins together rather than estrogens alone. Progesterone receptors were detected in human and rat aortic smooth muscle cells in vivo and in vitro (in subculture). We examined the effect of progesterone on proliferation of smooth muscle cells, important constituents of atherosclerotic plaques. Progesterone at physiologic levels inhibited DNA synthesis and proliferation in these cells in a dose-dependent manner, and pretreatment with the progesterone receptor antagonist RU486 blocked inhibition. Cyclin A and E messenger RNA levels decreased after progesterone treatment but those of cyclin B and D1 did not change. This cell cycle-dependent inhibition of arterial Smooth muscle cell proliferation by progesterone may represent a mechanism for the hormone's protective effect against atherosclerosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology