Atherosclerosis threatens human health by developing cardiovascular diseases, the deadliest disease world widely. The major mechanism contributing to the formation of atherosclerosis is mainly due to vascular endothelial cell (VECs) senescence. We have shown that 17β-estradiol (17β-E) may protect VECs from senescence by upregulating autophagy. However, little is known about how 17β-E activates the autophagy pathway to alleviate cellular senescence. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine the role of estrogen receptor (ER) α and β in the effects of 17β-E on vascular autophagy and aging through in vitro and in vivo models. Hydrogen peroxide (HO) was used to establish Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECs) senescence. Autophagy activity was measured through immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry staining of light chain 3 (LC3) expression. Inhibition of ER activity was established using shRNA gene silencing and ER antagonist. Compared with ER-β knockdown, we found that knockdown of ER-α resulted in a significant increase in the extent of HUVEC senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) secretion. ER-α-specific shRNA was found to reduce 17β-E-induced autophagy, promote HUVEC senescence, disrupt the morphology of HUVECs, and increase the expression of Rb dephosphorylation and SASP. These in vitro findings were found consistent with the in vivo results. In conclusion, our data suggest that 17β-E activates the activity of ER-α and then increases the formation of autophagosomes (LC3 high expression) and decreases the fusion of lysosomes with autophagic vesicles (P62 low expression), which in turn serves to decrease the secretion of SASP caused by HO and consequently inhibit HO-induced senescence in HUVEC cells.
© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.