The aim of the present study is to investigate whether vascular protective effects of steroid hormones in aged female rats are mediated through calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a known potent vasodilator. This rat model reflects the postmenopausal state in humans. We examined whether blood pressure lowering effects of CGRP are enhanced in aged female rats when steroid hormone treatments are administered. We observed that 1) continuous infusion of CGRP lowered blood pressures in rats treated with estradiol-17β and progesterone (P < 0.05), 2) acute hypotensive effects of CGRP were significantly (P < 0.05) greater in the presence of steroid hormones than in vehicle-treated groups, 3) blood pressure decreases in response to CGRP are lower in aged female rats than they are in young adult ovariectomized rats, and 4) age-related differences in the hypotensive effects of CGRP were nullified when animals were treated with steroid hormones. These data suggest that female sex steroid hormones may modulate arterial blood pressure by regulating the CGRP effector system in female rats regardless of age.
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