Novel female sex-dependent actions of oestrogen in the intestine.

The intestine is an oestrogen responsive organ and circulatory oestrogens suppress Cl(-) secretion across the epithelium of the colon to promote fluid retention at the luteal stage of the menstrual cycle. Ion transporters in the colon which are involved in Cl(-) secretion show differential expression between males and females as do the signalling protein kinase intermediates involved in acutely regulating these transporters. Work from our laboratory has identified the KCNQ1/KCNE3 channel as one of the principal targets for oestrogen-induced signalling cascades in the distal colon. Through inhibition of the KCNQ1 channel, basolateral K(+) recycling is decreased so reducing the favourable electrochemical gradient for Cl(-) extrusion at the apical membrane. The actions of oestrogen on non-reproductive tissues such as the colon, kidney, lung and sweat gland will affect whole body electrolyte and fluid homeostasis and also have consequences for reproductive potential.