Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 4;21(9). pii: E3244. doi: 10.3390/ijms21093244.
The lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases in pre-menopausal women compared to men is well-known documented. This protection has been largely attributed to the protective effect of estrogens, which exert many beneficial effects against arterial diseases, including vasodilatation, acceleration of healing in response to arterial injury, arterial collateral growth and atheroprotection. More recently, with the visualization of the lymphatic vessels, the impact of estrogens on lymphedema and lymphatic diseases started to be elucidated. These estrogenic effects are mediated not only by the classic nuclear/genomic actions via the specific estrogen receptor (ER) α and β, but also by rapid extra-nuclear membrane-initiated steroid signaling (MISS). The ERs are expressed by endothelial, lymphatic and smooth muscle cells in the different vessels. In this review, we will summarize the complex vascular effects of estrogens and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) that have been described using different transgenic mouse models with selective loss of ERα function and numerous animal models of vascular and lymphatic diseases.