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Raloxifene is a better antioxidant of low-density lipoprotein than estradiol or tamoxifen in postmenopausal women in vitro

Arteaga, Eugenio MD1; Villaseca, Paulina MD1; Bianchi, Marcelo MD2; Rojas, Auristela MSc1; Marshall, Guillermo PhD3


Objective: The oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is an important factor in the development of atherosclerosis. The antioxidant activity of some compounds buffers the free radicals generated either endogenously or exogenously, thus decreasing the potential damage mediated by oxidation. Estrogens are potent antioxidants of LDL, in vitro and in vivo, a mechanism that could probably influence the cardioprotection associated with hormone replacement therapy in postmenopause. We conducted an in vitro study of the antioxidant effect on LDL of two selective estrogen receptor modulators, raloxifene (RLX) and tamoxifen (TMX), comparing them with the known antioxidant effect of estradiol (E2).

Design: LDL was isolated by ultracentrifugation from plasma obtained from 12 healthy, untreated, postmenopausal women. Aliquots containing 0.5 mg of LDL protein were incubated for 4 h with CuSO4 (15 μM) to induce oxidative stress and with one of the three compounds studied: RLX, TMX, or E2 at doses of 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 15, 50, and 500 μM, and 1 and 2 mM. Malonaldehyde (MDA, nmol/mg protein) was measured as a marker of LDL oxidation.

Results: E2 induced a dose-dependent decrease in MDA concentration. MDA values decreased significantly, as compared with baseline, starting at a concentration of 2 μM for RLX and 3 μM for both, TMX, or E2. The dose necessary to reduce the generation of MDA by 50% was significantly lower for RLX (3.3 μM, P < 0.001) than for E2 (24.6 μM ) or TMX (35.3 μM). The area under the curve also showed a higher antioxidant activity for RLX compared with TMX or E2 (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The in vitro antioxidant activity of RLX is substantially more potent than TMX or E2. This finding, added to the other beneficial effects of the drug in the cardiovascular system, could imply some cardioprotector effect.

From the 1Department of Endocrinology, 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the 3Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago Chile.

Received May 28, 2002; revised and accepted September 5, 2002.

This paper was presented in part at the10th World Congress on Menopause, Berlin, June 2002.

This work was supported by Fondecyt Grant 1951188.

Address correspondence to Eugenio Arteaga, MD, Department of Endocrinology, Faculty of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, P.O. Box 114-D, Santiago, Chile. E-mail:

©2003The North American Menopause Society