Mechanisms of Sex Disparities in Cardiovascular Function and Remodeling

Sarika Chaudhari, Spencer C. Cushen, Oluwatobiloba Osikoya, Paresh A. Jaini, Rachel Posey, Keisa Mathis, Styliani Goulopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Epidemiological studies demonstrate disparities between men and women in cardiovascular disease prevalence, clinical symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. Enrollment of women in clinical trials is lower than men, and experimental studies investigating molecular mechanisms and efficacy of certain therapeutics in cardiovascular disease have been primarily conducted in male animals. These practices bias data interpretation and limit the implication of research findings in female clinical populations. This review will focus on the biological origins of sex differences in cardiovascular physiology, health, and disease, with an emphasis on the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. First, we will briefly discuss epidemiological evidence of sex disparities in cardiovascular disease prevalence and clinical manifestation. Second, we will describe studies suggesting sexual dimorphism in normal cardiovascular function from fetal life to older age. Third, we will summarize and critically discuss the current literature regarding the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of estrogens and androgens on cardiac and vascular physiology and the contribution of these hormones to sex differences in cardiovascular disease. Fourth, we will present cardiovascular disease risk factors that are positively associated with the female sex, and thus, contributing to increased cardiovascular risk in women. We conclude that inclusion of both men and women in the investigation of the role of estrogens and androgens in cardiovascular physiology will advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying sex differences in cardiovascular disease. In addition, investigating the role of sex-specific factors in the development of cardiovascular disease will reduce sex and gender disparities in the treatment and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-411
Number of pages37
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Dec 2018


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