Oestrogen by-product linked to fatal lung condition
The study conducted by scientists from the University of Glasgow have showed that high levels of an enzyme in the lungs called CYP1B1 that breaks down oestrogen into harmful smaller molecules could play a role in the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension that can prove fatal.
The study shows that CYP1B1 levels were elevated in the lungs of mice with pulmonary arterial hypertension and lowering its levels could reduce the severity of the disease.
A ‘toxic’ by-product of oestrogen called 16α-hydroxyestrone was found in elevated amounts in the urine of mice. Importantly, the researchers also examined a small number of lung samples from human patients with pulmonary hypertension and all of them had elevated levels of CYP1B1. Thus they concluded that targeting the enzyme with a specific drug in the future might make a difference for patients.
Dr Shannon Amoils, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation, said, “Pulmonary arterial hypertension is more common in women, which has led to the suggestion that the higher oestrogen levels found in women might be linked to higher risk. This interesting study in mice, which also looked at human samples, shows that abnormal oestrogen breakdown in the lungs may be an important factor. But many questions about this condition are still unanswered, and the next stage is to move on to examine this association more closely in patients.”