Estrogen supplementation attenuates glucocorticoid and catecholamine responses to mental stress in perimenopausal women

Paul A. Komesaroff, Murray D. Esler, Krishnankutty Sudhir

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Estrogens are reported to provide protection against the development of cardiovascular disease in women, but the mechanisms underlying these effects are not well defined. We hypothesized that estrogen might affect the hormonal responses to stress. We therefore studied cortisol, ACTH, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and norepinephrine spillover and hemodynamic responses to a 10-min mental arithmetic test in 12 perimenopausal women randomized to 8 weeks of estrogen supplementation (estradiol valerate, 2 mg daily; n = 7) or placebo (n = 5). Total body and forearm norepinephrine spillover were measured by radiotracer methodology. After supplementation with estradiol, the increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in response to mental stress were reduced, and cortisol, ACTH, plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine, and total body norepinephrine spillover responses to stress were significantly attenuated (P < 0.05 in each case). Forearm norepinephrine spillover was unchanged by estrogen, and there was no change in any of the responses after placebo. We conclude that estrogen supplementation in perimenopausal women attenuates blood pressure, glucocorticoid, and catecholamine responses to psychological stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-610
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes

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