Estrogen receptor-beta prevents cardiac fibrosis.
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Development of cardiac fibrosis portends the transition and deterioration from hypertrophy to dilation and heart failure. Here we examined how estrogen blocks this important development. Angiotensin II (AngII) and endothelin-1 induce cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis in humans. and we find that these agents directly stimulate the transition of the cardiac fibroblast to a myofibroblast. AngII and endothelin-1 stimulated TGFβ1 synthesis in the fibroblast, an inducer of fibrosis that signaled via c-jun kinase to Sma- and Mad-related protein 3 phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in myofibroblasts. As a result, mesenchymal proteins fibronectin and vimentin were produced, as were collagens I and III, the major forms found in fibrotic hearts. 17β-Estradiol (E2) or dipropylnitrile, an estrogen receptor (ER)β agonist, comparably blocked all these events, reversed by estrogen receptor (ER)β small interfering RNA. E2 and dipropylnitrile signaling through cAMP and protein kinase A prevented myofibroblast formation and blocked activation of c-jun kinase and important events of fibrosis. In the hearts of ovariectomized female mice, cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis were induced by AngII infusion and prevented by E2 administration to wild type but not ERβ knockout rodents. Our results establish the cardiac fibroblast as an important target for hypertrophic/fibrosis-inducing peptides the actions of which were mitigated by E2/ERβ acting in these stromal cells.