Immunocytochemical demonstration of oestrogen receptor beta in blood vessels of the female rat

C. Andersson, M L Lydrup, M Fernö, I Idvall, J-Å Gustafsson, B O Nilsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of oestrogen receptor (ER) beta in vascular function remains unclear. With the use of a specific ERbeta antibody we have now, using immunocytochemistry, visualized ERbeta in different parts of the vascular tree. In about 70% of medial smooth muscle cells of female rat aorta, tail artery and uterine artery, nuclear immunoreactivity to ERbeta was observed. In these vessels endothelial cells also expressed ERbeta. Vascular expression of the ERalpha subtype was lower than that of ERbeta. In aorta and tail artery, no immunoreactivity towards ERalpha was observed, while in uterine vessels occasional medial smooth muscle and endothelial cells expressed this ER subtype. ERbeta and alpha expression in uterine vessels was independent of the stage of the oestrous cycle, suggesting that variations in uterine blood flow occurring during the cycle are independent of ER density. The regional distribution of ERalpha, as determined by immunocytochemistry, was supported by measurements of ERalpha levels by enzyme immunoassay. In the uterine artery, the level of ERalpha was several times higher (P<0.001) than that of aorta and tail artery (10.1+/-1.7 fmol/mg protein in the uterine artery vs 3.3+/-1.0 and 0.5+/-0.5 fmol/mg protein in aorta and tail artery respectively). Thus, a prominent nuclear expression of ERbeta was observed in the vascular wall of several parts of the vascular tree, while ERalpha predominantly was expressed in uterine vessels, suggesting that ERbeta and alpha may have different roles in vascular function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001 May

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Aorta
  • Arteries
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tail
  • Uterus


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