Department of Cardiology of the Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China; The Center of Clinical Pharmacology of the Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China
Department of Cardiology of the Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China
Department of Medicine/Endocrinology, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY, USA
Department of Medicine/Endocrinology, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY, USA; Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China
The researches described in this article were partially supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81570271 and 81400357) and NIH (UL1 RR024996). We are very grateful to John R Lee (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York), and Jeff J Zhu (Research Manager, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York) for critical review of the article. The authors have nothing to disclosure.
The roles of androgens on cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology are controversial as both beneficial and detrimental effects have been reported. Although the reasons for this discrepancy are unclear, multiple factors such as genetic and epigenetic variation, sex-specificity, hormone interactions, drug preparation and route of administration may contribute. Recently, growing evidence suggests that androgens exhibit beneficial effects on cardiovascular function though the mechanism remains to be elucidated. Endothelial cells (ECs) which line the interior surface of blood vessels are distributed throughout the circulatory system, and play a crucial role in cardiovascular function. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are considered an indispensable element for the reconstitution and maintenance of an intact endothelial layer. Endothelial dysfunction is regarded as an initiating step in development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. The modulation of endothelial functions by androgens through either genomic or nongenomic signal pathways is one possible mechanism by which androgens act on the cardiovascular system. Obtaining insight into the mechanisms by which androgens affect EC and EPC functions will allow us to determine whether androgens possess beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. This in turn may be critical in the prevention and therapy of cardiovascular diseases. This article seeks to review recent progress in androgen regulation of endothelial function, the sex-specificity of androgen actions, and its clinical applications in the cardiovascular system.