G Protein-coupled Estrogen Receptor Protects from Atherosclerosis.
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Coronary atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction in postmenopausal women have been linked to inflammation and reduced nitric oxide (NO) formation. Natural estrogen exerts protective effects on both processes, yet also displays uterotrophic activity. Here, we used genetic and pharmacologic approaches to investigate the role of the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) in atherosclerosis. In ovary-intact mice, deletion of gper increased atherosclerosis progression, total and LDL cholesterol levels and inflammation while reducing vascular NO bioactivity, effects that were in some cases aggravated by surgical menopause. In human endothelial cells, GPER was expressed on intracellular membranes and mediated eNOS activation and NO formation, partially accounting for estrogen-mediated effects. Chronic treatment with G-1, a synthetic, highly selective small molecule agonist of GPER, reduced postmenopausal atherosclerosis and inflammation without uterotrophic effects. In summary, this study reveals an atheroprotective function of GPER and introduces selective GPER activation as a novel therapeutic approach to inhibit postmenopausal atherosclerosis and inflammation in the absence of uterotrophic activity.