Endothelin, sex, and pregnancy: Unique considerations for blood pressure control in females

Ellen E. Gillis, Jennifer M. Sasser, Jennifer C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a potent vasoconstrictor, and dysregulation of the endothelin (ET) system has been implicated in the development of hypertension. Sex differences in the ET system have been identified in ET receptor expression and activation, levels of ET-1, and downstream mediators of the ET system. More specifically, males have greater ET-1/ETA receptor activation, whereas females exhibit greater ETB receptor activation. These differences have been suggested to contribute to the sex differences observed in blood pressure control, with greater ETB receptor activation in females potentially acting as an important pathway contributing to the lower prevalence of hypertension in young females compared with age-matched males. This hypothesis is further supported by studies in pregnancy; the role of the ET system is enhanced during pregnancy, with dysregulation of the ET system resulting in preeclampsia. Further research is necessary to elucidate the relative roles of the ET system in blood pressure control in both sexes and to further explore the potential benefits of pharmacological ET blockade in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R691-R696
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Hypertension
  • Preeclampsia
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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