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Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology

Endogenous estrogens lower plasma PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol but not Lp(a) or bile acid synthesis in women.


PMID 22207727

Abstract

Cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism display pronounced gender differences. Premenopausal women have lower LDL and higher HDL cholesterol, whereas men display higher synthetic rates of bile acids and cholesterol. The effects of the administration of exogenous hormones to humans and animals indicate that these gender differences can often be explained by estrogens. We evaluated how increased levels of endogenous estrogens modulate cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism in women. We studied healthy women during initiation of in vitro fertilization using blood samples obtained when endogenous estrogens were low and high. Cholesterol in VLDL and LDL, but not in HDL, was reduced 20% when estrogens were high. Apolipoprotein B levels decreased 13%. Apolipoprotein A-I and triglyceride levels increased 8% and 37%, respectively, whereas lipoprotein(a) levels were unchanged. Circulating PCSK9, a suppressor of LDL receptors, was reduced 14% when estrogens were high. Serum markers of bile acid and cholesterol synthesis were unaltered. Growth hormone levels increased 3-fold when estrogens were high, whereas insulin-like growth factor-1 and fibroblast growth factor-21 concentrations were unaltered. In women, Apolipoprotein B-containing particles and circulating PCSK9 are reduced when endogenous estrogens are high, indicating that endogenous estrogens induce hepatic LDL receptors partly through a posttranscriptional mechanism. However, estrogens do not stimulate bile acid or cholesterol synthesis.

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