Estrogen receptor-β and fetoplacental endothelial prostanoid biosynthesis: A link to clinically demonstrated fetal growth restriction

Emily J. Su*, Linda Ernst, Nadine Abdallah, Robert Chatterton, Hong Xin, Diana Monsivais, John Coon, Serdar E. Bulun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Context: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) due to placental dysfunction impacts short- and long-term neonatal outcomes. Abnormal umbilical artery Doppler velocimetry indicating elevated fetoplacental vascular resistance has been associated with fetal morbidity and mortality. Estrogen receptors are regulators of vasomotor tone, and fetoplacental endothelium expresses estrogen receptor- β (ESR2) as its sole estrogen receptor. Objective: Our objective was to elucidate the mechanism whereby ESR2 regulates placental villous endothelial cell prostanoid biosynthesis. Design and Participants: We conducted immunohistochemical analysis of human placental specimens and studies of primary fetoplacental endothelial cells isolated from subjects with uncomplicated pregnancies. Main Outcome Measures: We evaluated in vivo levels of ESR2 and cyclooxygenase-2 (PTGS2) in villous endothelial cells from fetuses with or withoutFGRand/or abnormal umbilical artery Doppler indices and in vitro effects of ESR2 on prostanoid biosynthetic gene expression. Results: ESR2 and PTGS2 expression were significantly higher within subjects with FGR with abnormal umbilical artery Doppler indices in comparison with controls (P < 0.01). ESR2 knockdown led to decreased cyclooxygenase-1 (PTGS1), PTGS2, prostaglandin F synthase (AKR1C3), and increased prostacyclin synthase (PTGIS), with opposing results found after ESR2 overexpression (P <0.05). ESR2 mediates prostaglandin H2 substrate availability and, in the setting of differential regulation of AKR1C3 and PTGIS, altered the balance between vasodilatory and vasoconstricting prostanoid production. Conclusions: Higher ESR2 expression in the placental vasculature of FGR subjects with abnormal blood flow is associated with an endothelial cell phenotype that preferentially produces vasoconstrictive prostanoids. Endothelial ESR2 appears to be a master regulator of prostanoid biosynthesis and contributes to high-resistance fetoplacental blood flow, thereby increasing morbidity and mortality associated with FGR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1558-E1567
JournalJournal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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