Regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor expression by estrogens and progestins

Salman M. Hyder, Jaou Chen Huang, Zafar Nawaz, Holly Boettger-Tong, Sari Mäkelä, Connie Chiappetta, George M. Stancel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Estrogens increase the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA in the rodent uterus. This regulatory effect is rapid, beginning within 1 hr after hormone treatment, dose dependent, and blocked by the pure antiestrogen ICI 182,780. The induction of the transcript is blocked by inhibitors of RNA but not of protein synthesis, and we have recently identified estrogen response elements in the VEGF gene. Collectively, these findings indicate that estrogens regulate uterine VEGF expression at the transcriptional level via the classical nuclear estrogen receptor pathway. Estrogen induction of VEGF occurs in the stromal layer of the rodent uterus, and estradiol induces expression of VEGF transcript levels in cultured human uterine stromal cells. Progestins also induce VEGF expression in the rodent uterus, although the effect is less marked and slower in onset than estrogenic effects. The effect of progestins is blocked by the antiprogestin mifepristone (RU-486), suggesting that it is also mediated by a classical nuclear receptor pathway. In addition, progestins regulate expression of VEGF mRNA and protein in cultured human T47-D breast cancer cells. The development of uterine leiomyomas is associated with exposure to ovarian sex steroids, abnormal uterine bleeding is commonly seen in patients with leiomyomas, and fibroids require an increased vascular supply for their growth. These observations suggest that VEGF and other angiogenic factors may represent potential targets for the treatment and prevention of uterine fibroids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-790
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Endometrium
  • Estradiol
  • Estrogen
  • Fibroids
  • Leiomyomas
  • Progesterone
  • Progestin
  • Uterus
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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