Trauma damages endothelial lining more so in women causing chronic health issues

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Trauma may be more than psychologically damaging for women: New research suggests it also could boost their chances of heart trouble.

Close to 300 nonsmoking women who were approaching or were past menopause were analyzed in the new study. They were asked about their life history of traumatic experiences such as sexual harassment, death of a child, being in a car crash, surviving a natural disaster, or being beaten or mugged.

Women who reported three or more traumatic experiences had poorer function of the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels (endothelial function) than those with fewer traumatic experiences.

Reduced endothelial function increases the risk of heart disease, the researchers noted.

Endothelial cell heterogeneity is mediated by one of two proximate mechanisms (Fig. 1) (Aird 2006). First, some site- and time-dependent differences in endothelial properties are governed by differences in the extracellular milieu. Because blood vessels are distributed throughout the body, their endothelial lining is exposed to an enormous variety of tissue microenvironments. Insofar as endothelial cells are capable of sensing and responding to their environment, the wide range of signal inputs from one organ to the next is sufficient to generate phenotypic heterogeneity across the vascular tree. When endothelial cells are removed from their native tissue and grown in tissue culture, they become uncoupled from critical extracellular cues and undergo phenotypic drift. For this reason, studies of cultured endothelial cells are fraught with limitations. Second, certain site-specific properties are epigenetically “fixed” and impervious to changes in the extracellular environment. Such properties are mitotically stable, and are thus retained under in vitro culture conditions. The relative roles of epigenetic and nonepigenetic forces in mediating phenotypic heterogeneity are not fully understood. A previous DNA microarray study of multiple human endothelial cell types grown in culture revealed site-specific signatures even in multiple passaged cells, providing genome-wide evidence for the importance of epigenetics in mediating differential gene expression (Chi et al. 2003). A study of endothelial cells from human tonsils revealed that approximately 50% of the vascular bed–specific genes were “washed out” when cultured in vitro, implicating a role for both the tissue environment and epigenetics in mediating differential gene expression (Lacorre et al. 2004).

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