Beating the Odds with Big K

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Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1859-1860
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5435.1859

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It has long been known that the female hormone estrogen benefits the cardiovascular system. One way in which it does this is to increase blood flow and decrease blood pressure by stimulating relaxation of the muscles in the walls of blood vessels. In a Perspective, Silberberg and Magleby discuss new findings ( Valverde et al ) showing that the b subunits of Maxi Kchannels in vascular smooth muscle cells facilitate the binding of estrogen, which activates the channels leading to relaxation of smooth muscle cells.