BACKGROUNDDecreased red blood cell (RBC) deformability and activation of neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leukocytes [PMN]) after trauma-hemorrhagic shock (T/HS) have been implicated in the development of multiple organ dysfunction. Experimentally, female animals seemed to be protected from the effects of T/HS, at least in part, because of elevated estrogen levels. Thus, we examined the relative role of estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and -beta in this protective response.METHODSTo accomplish this goal, RBC deformability and neutrophil respiratory burst activity were measured in several groups of hormonally intact or ovariectomized (OVX) female rats subjected to T/HS (laparotomy plus hemorrhage to an MAP of 30 mm Hg to 35 mm Hg for 90 minutes) or trauma-sham shock (T/SS) and 3 hours of reperfusion. These groups included rats receiving vehicle, estradiol, or either an ER-alpha agonist or an ER-beta agonist administered at the end of the shock period just before volume resuscitation.RESULTSRBC deformability and neutrophil activation were similar among all the T/SS groups and were not different from that observed in the non-OVX female rats subjected to T/HS. In contrast, RBC deformability was reduced and neutrophil activation was increased in the OVX, T/HS female rats as compared with the T/SS groups or the non-OVX, T/HS rats. The administration of estrogen to the T/HS, OVX rats returned RBC and neutrophil function to normal. Both the ER-alpha and -beta agonist partially, but not completely, protected the OVX rats from T/HS-induced loss of RBC deformability, whereas only the ER-beta agonist prevented the increase in neutrophil activation.CONCLUSIONSThe protective effects of estrogen on T/HS-induced RBC deformability are mediated, at least in part, via activation of both ER-alpha and -beta, whereas ER-beta activation is involved in limiting T/HS-induced neutrophil activation.