To investigate whether the coexistence of hypertension and ovariectomy will increase cardiac Fas receptor and mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathways, histopathological analysis, the TUNEL assay andWestern blotting were performed on the excised hearts from three groups of female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), which were divided into a sham-operated group (SHR-Sham), bilaterally ovariectomized group (SHR-OVX) and normotensive Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY). Compared with the WKY group, the SHR-Sham group exhibited decreased protein levels of ER_, ER_, p-Akt/Akt, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and p-Bad and decreased further in the SHR-OVX group, as well as protein levels of t-Bid, Bak, Bad, Bax, cytochrome c, activated caspase-9 and activated caspase-3 (mitochondria-dependent apoptosis) increased in the SHR-Sham group and increased further in the SHR-OVX group. Compared with the WKY group, protein levels of Fas ligand, TNF-_, Fas death receptors, TNFR1, FADD and activated caspase-8 (Fas receptor-dependent apoptosis) increased in the SHR-Sham group, but did not increase in the SHR-OVX group, except Fas ligand and TNF-_. The coexistence of hypertension and ovariectomy attenuated the estrogen receptor survival pathway and appeared to additively increase the cardiac mitochondria-dependent, but not the Fas receptor-dependent apoptosis pathway, which might provide one possible mechanism for the development of cardiac abnormalities in hypertensive postmenopausal women.
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