Claudin-5 as a Novel Estrogen Target in Vascular Endothelium
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Objective— Estrogens have multiple effects on vascular physiology and function. In the present study, we look for direct estrogen target genes within junctional proteins.
Methods and Results— We use murine endothelial cell lines of brain and heart origin, which express both subtypes of estrogen receptor, ERα and ERβ. Treatment of these cells with 17β-estradiol (E2) led to an increase in transendothelial electric resistance and a most prominent upregulation of the tight junction protein claudin-5 expression. A significant increase of claudin-5 promoter activity, mRNA, and protein levels was detected in cells from both vascular beds. In protein lysates and in immunoreactions on brain sections from ovariectomized E2-treated mice, we noticed an increase in claudin-5 protein and mRNA content. Treatment of cells with a specific ERβ agonist, diarylpropionitrile, revealed the same effect as E2 stimulation. Moreover, we detected significantly lower claudin-5 mRNA and protein content in ERβ knockout mice.
Conclusions— We describe claudin-5 as a novel estrogen target in vascular endothelium and show in vivo (brain endothelium) and in vitro (brain and heart endothelium) effects of estrogen on claudin-5 levels. The estrogen-induced increase in junctional protein levels may lead to an improvement in vascular structural integrity and barrier function of vascular endothelium.