Today, women live almost a third of their lives in a postmenopausal, estrogen-deficient state. While women benefit from the numerous positive effects of estrogen during the reproductive years, menopause induces a variety of a problems including cardiovascular disease, adverse tissue remodeling, and cognitive decline. However, currently prescribed estrogen replacement therapy is not clinically recommended for long-term treatment. Our goal is to elucidate estrogen receptor pharmacology to allow the development of pharmaceuticals that can selectively elicit cardiovascular protection.
We focus our efforts on the vascular effects of the recently discovered G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER). GPER is membrane-bound and activates acute intracellular signaling, distinguishing it from the nuclear estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ. Moreover, this receptor does not impact the traditional estrogenic actions in reproductive tissues, indicating a more selective role. This unique receptor profile makes GPER a good drug target for eliciting estrogen’s cardiovascular benefits. We hope that our work will promote the improvement of menopausal hormonal therapies and therefore quality of life in aging women.