Effects of testosterone on endothelial cells

Endothelial cells play an important role in atherosclerosis not only by regulating vascular tone but also by forming a barrier which regulates the uptake of cells and macromolecules into the vessel wall and hemostasis (Libby 2002; Ross 1999). In the previous section, we discussed several arguments suggesting that testosterone affects endothelium-dependent vasodilatation via genomic effects mediated by the androgen receptor. Testosterone also suppresses the expression of the vascular cell adhesion molecule VCAM-1, which plays a pivotal role in the adhesion and hence immigration ofleukocytes into the arterial wall. However, it is controversial whether this effect is mediated via testosterone and the androgen receptor (McCrohon etal.

1999; Zhang etal. 2002) or via the estrogen receptor after conversion of testosterone into estradiol (Hatakeyama et al. 2002; Mukherjee et al. 2002). Differences in the gender of cell donors or the stimulation procedures have been discussed as possible sources of the discrepant findings (Liu et al. 2003). Testosterone was also shown to enhance apoptosis of endothelial cells which were cultivated in the absence of serum, probably by a mechanism which involves the androgen receptor rather the estrogen receptor (Ling etal. 2002).

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