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Steroid hormones and the endocrine heart

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Functional Morphology of the Endocrine Heart


Evidence from autoradiographic studies with radiolabeled steroid hormones indicates the presence of nuclear receptors in cardiomyocytes for estrogen, androgen, gluco- and mineralcorticosteroids, as well as 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3. The results suggest that baseline manufacture and secretion of atrial peptide hormone and probably other functions of heart muscle are regulated by a direct genomic action of steroid hormones in a fashion similar to that known for brain and pituitary peptide and monoamine messengers. The specific effects of the individual hormones need to be studied and physiologic and possible therapeutic implications clarified.

The endocrine heart may include the atrium (5) and probably the ventricular conduction system (2). These structures contain myoendocrine cells that stain immunohistochemically with antibodies to a heart hormone, variably termed “atrial natriuretic polypeptide” (ANP) or “cardiodilatin” (CDD) (5). The involvement of the ventricular conduction system needs to be further established and was suggested from original observations in our laboratory in Chapel Hill, (2).

Indications for a link between steroid hormone(s) sites of action and cells that contain “atrial granules” were obtained before the discovery of atrial peptide hormone, when 3H-estradiol was localized in atrial cardiomyocytes and an effect of the steroid hormone on the manufacture of a then putative atrial peptide hormone was considered (21). Since steroid hormones act as regulators of peptide hormone and monamine secretion in brain and pituitary (10,22) and in other tissues (3), this possibility must also be considered for the cardio-vascular system.

This is a brief review of histochemical evidence that suggests a direct action on heart muscle, endocrine or non-endocrine, of all of the steroid hormones, together with a consideration of the steroidal cardiac glycosides.

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W.-G. Forssmann D. W. Scheuermann J. Alt

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© 1989 Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Darmstadt

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Stumpf, W.E., Back, H., Forssmann, W.G. (1989). Steroid hormones and the endocrine heart. In: Forssmann, WG., Scheuermann, D.W., Alt, J. (eds) Functional Morphology of the Endocrine Heart. Steinkopff.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-72434-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-72432-9

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