Role of GPER in estrogen-dependent nitric oxide formation and vasodilation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Estrogens are potent regulators of vasomotor tone, yet underlying receptor- and ligand-specific signaling pathways remain poorly characterized. The primary physiological estrogen 17β-estradiol (E2), a non-selective agonist of classical nuclear estrogen receptors (ERα and ERβ) as well as the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), stimulates formation of the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO) in endothelial cells. Here, we studied the contribution of GPER signaling in E2-dependent activation of endothelial NO formation and subsequent vasodilation. Employing E2 and the GPER-selective agonist G-1, we investigated eNOS phosphorylation and NO formation in human endothelial cells, and endothelium-dependent vasodilation in the aortae of wild-type and Gper-deficient mice. Both E2 and G-1 induced phosphorylation of eNOS at the activation site Ser1177 to similar extents. Endothelial NO production to E2 was comparable to that of G-1, and was substantially reduced after pharmacological inhibition of GPER. Similarly, the clinically used ER-targeting drugs 4OH-tamoxifen, raloxifene, and ICI182,780 (faslodex, fulvestrant™) induced NO formation in part via GPER. We identified c-Src, EGFR, PI3K and ERK signaling pathways to be involved in GPER-dependent NO formation. In line with activation of NO formation in cells, E2 and G-1 induced equally potent vasodilation in the aorta of wild-type mice. Gper deletion completely abrogated the vasodilator response to G-1, while reducing the response to E2 by ∼50%. These findings indicate that a substantial portion of E2-induced endothelium-dependent vasodilation and NO formation is mediated by GPER. Thus, selective targeting of vascular GPER may be a suitable approach to activate the endothelial NO pathway, possibly leading to reduced vasomotor tone and inhibition of atherosclerotic vascular disease.Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • December 2018