Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology;
We hypothesized that potentiating the bioavailability of endothelial epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) via deletion of the gene for soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), or downregulation of sEH expression, enhances flow/shear stress-induced dilator responses (FID) of arterioles. With the use of male (M) and female (F) wild-type (WT) and sEH-knockout (KO) mice, isolated gracilis muscle arterioles were cannulated and pressurized at 80 mmHg. Basal tone and increases in diameter of arterioles as a function of perfusate flow (5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 μl/min) were recorded. The magnitude of FID was significantly smaller and associated with a greater arteriolar tone in M-WT than F-WT mice, revealing a sex difference in FID. This sex difference was abolished by deletion of the sEH gene, as evidenced by an enhanced FID in M-KO mice to a level comparable with those observed in F-KO and F-WT mice. These three groups of mice coincidentally exhibited an increased endothelial sensitivity to shear stress (smaller WSS50) and were hypotensive. Endothelial EETs participated in the mediation of enhanced FID in M-KO, F-KO, and F-WT mice, without effects on FID of M-WT mice. Protein expression of sEH was downregulated by approximately fourfold in vessels of F-WT compared with M-WT mice, paralleled with greater vascular EET levels that were statistically comparable with those observed in both male and female sEH-KO mice. In conclusion, sex-different regulation of sEH accounts for sex differences in flow-mediated dilation of microvessels in gonadally intact mice.