Plasma growth hormone (GH) profiles regulate the sexually dimorphic expression of cytochromes P450 and many other genes in rat and mouse liver, however, the proximal transcriptional regulators of these genes are unknown. Presently, we characterize three liver transcription factors that are expressed in adult female rat and mouse liver at levels up to 16-fold (Tox), 73-fold (Trim24/TIF1α), and 125-fold (Cutl2/Cux2) higher than in adult males, depending on the strain and species, with Tox expression only detected in mice. In rats, these sex differences first emerged at puberty, when the high prepubertal expression of Cutl2 and Trim24 was extinguished in males but was further increased in females. Rat hepatic expression of Cutl2 and Trim24 was abolished by hypophysectomy and, in the case of Cutl2, was restored to near-female levels by continuous GH replacement. Cutl2 and Trim24 were increased to female-like levels in livers of intact male rats and mice treated with GH continuously (female GH pattern), while Tox expression reached only about 40% of adult female levels. Expression of all three genes was also elevated to normal female levels or higher in male mice whose plasma GH profile was feminized secondary to somatostatin gene disruption. Cutl2 and Trim24 both responded to GH infusion in mice within 10–24 h and Tox within 4 d, as compared to at least 4–7 d required for the induced expression of several continuous GH-regulated cytochromes P450 and other female-specific hepatic genes. Cutl2, Trim24 and Tox were substantially up-regulated in livers of male mice deficient in either of two transcription factors implicated in GH regulation of liver sex specificity, namely, signal transducer and activator of transcription 5b (STAT5b) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α), with sex-specific expression being substantially reduced or lost in mice deficient in either nuclear factor. Cutl2 and Trim24 both display transcriptional repressor activity and could thus contribute to the loss of GH-regulated, male-specific liver gene expression seen in male mice deficient in STAT5b or HNF4α. Binding sites for Cutl1, whose DNA-binding specificity is very close to that of Cutl2, were statistically over-represented in STAT5b-dependent male-specific mouse genes, lending support to this hypothesis.
growth hormone; STAT5b; HNF4α; liver gene expression; sex-specificity
A paucity of information on biological sex-specific differences in cardiac gene expression in response to diet has prompted this present nutrigenomics investigation.
Sexual dimorphism exists in the physiological and transcriptional response to diet, particularly in response to high-fat feeding. Consumption of Trans-fatty acids (TFA) has been linked to substantially increased risk of heart disease, in which sexual dimorphism is apparent, with males suffering a higher disease rate. Impairment of the cardiovascular system has been noted in animals exposed to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) during the neonatal period, and sexual dimorphism in the growth axis of MSG-treated animals has previously been noted. Processed foods may contain both TFA and MSG.
We examined physiological differences and changes in gene expression in response to TFA and/or MSG consumption compared to a control diet, in male and female C57BL/6J mice.
Heart and % body weight increases were greater in TFA-fed mice, who also exhibited dyslipidemia (P < 0.05). Hearts from MSG-fed females weighed less than males (P < 0.05). 2-factor ANOVA indicated that the TFA diet induced over twice as many cardiac differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in males compared to females (P < 0.001); and 4 times as many male DEGs were downregulated including Gata4, Mef2d and Srebf2. Enrichment of functional Gene Ontology (GO) categories were related to transcription, phosphorylation and anatomic structure (P < 0.01). A number of genes were upregulated in males and downregulated in females, including pro-apoptotic histone deacetylase-2 (HDAC2). Sexual dimorphism was also observed in cardiac transcription from MSG-fed animals, with both sexes upregulating approximately 100 DEGs exhibiting sex-specific differences in GO categories. A comparison of cardiac gene expression between all diet combinations together identified a subset of 111 DEGs significant only in males, 64 DEGs significant in females only, and 74 transcripts identified as differentially expressed in response to dietary manipulation in both sexes.
Our model identified major changes in the cardiac transcriptional profile of TFA and/or MSG-fed mice compared to controls, which was reflected by significant differences in the physiological profile within the 4 diet groups. Identification of sexual dimorphism in cardiac transcription may provide the basis for sex-specific medicine in the future.
Introduction. Sexual dimorphism with an increased prevalence in women has long been observed in various autoimmune, allergic, and skin diseases. Recent research has attempted to correlate this female predilection to physiologic changes seen in the menstrual cycle in order to more effectively diagnose and treat these diseases. Cases. We present five cases of cutaneous diseases in women with annular morphology and distributive features that favor one side over the other. In all cases, skin disease improved with ovarian suppression. Conclusion. Sexual dimorphism in the innate and adaptive immune systems has long been observed, with females demonstrating a more vigorous immune response compared to males. Female sex hormones promote T and B lymphocyte autoreactivity and favor the humoral arm of adaptive immunity. In addition to ovarian steroidogenesis and immunity, intricate pathways coexist in order to engage a single oocyte in each cycle, while simultaneously sustaining the ovarian reserve. Vigorous proinflammatory, vasoactive, and pigment-related cytokines emerge during the demise of the corpus luteum, influencing peripherical sex hormone metabolism of the level of the macrophage and fibroblast. We propose that annular and lateralizing lesions are important manifestations of hormone-related inflammation and recognition of this linkage can lead to improved immune and reproductive health.
This review discusses sex differences in the prognosis of acute or chronic inflammatory diseases. The consequences of severe inflammation vary in relation to sex, depending on illness duration. In the majority of acute diseases, males present higher mortality rates, whereas continuous chronic inflammation associated with tissue damage is more deleterious in females. The recruitment of cells, along with its clinical expression, is more significant in females, as reflected by higher inflammatory markers. Given that estrogens or androgens are known to modulate inflammation, their different levels in males and females cannot account for the sexual dimorphism observed in humans and animals from birth to death with regard to inflammation. Numerous studies evaluated receptors, cytokine production, and clinical outcomes in both animals and humans, revealing that estrogens clearly modulate the immune response, but the results are contradictory and difficult to link to hormone concentrations. Even in prepubescent children, the presentation of acute pneumonia or chronic diseases mimics the adult pattern. Several genes located on the X chromosome have been shown to encode molecules involved in inflammation. Moreover, 10% to 15% of the genes from silenced X chromosome may escape inhibition. Females are also a mosaic of cells with genes from either paternal or maternal X chromosome. Therefore, polymorphism of X-linked genes would result in the presence of two cell populations with distinct regulatory arsenals, providing females with greater diversity to fight against infectious challenges, in comparison with the uniform cell populations in hemizygous males. The similarities observed between males and Turner syndrome patients using an endotoxin stimulation model support the difference in gene expression between monosomy and disomy for the X chromosome. Considering the enhanced inflammation in females, cytokine production may be assumed to be higher in females than males. Even if all results are not clear-cut, nonetheless, many studies have reported higher cytokine levels in both male humans and animals than in females. High IL-6 levels in males correlated with poorer prognosis and shorter longevity. A sound understanding of the basic regulatory mechanisms responsible for these gender differences may lead to new therapeutic targets.
Sex; Respiratory inflammation; X chromosome; Hormones; Cytokines
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is sexually dimorphic in both rodents and humans, with significantly higher incidence in males, an effect that is dependent on sex hormones. The molecular mechanisms by which estrogens prevent and androgens promote liver cancer remain unclear. Here, we discover that sexually dimorphic HCC is completely reversed in Foxa1- and Foxa2-deficient mice after diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Coregulation of target genes by Foxa1/a2 and either the estrogen receptor (ERα) or the androgen receptor (AR) was increased during hepatocarcinogenesis in normal female or male mice, respectively, but was lost in Foxa1/2-deficient mice. Thus, both estrogen-dependent resistance to and androgen-mediated facilitation of HCC depend on Foxa1/2. Strikingly, single nucleotide polymorphisms at FOXA2 binding sites reduce binding of both FOXA2 and ERα to their targets in human liver and correlate with HCC development in women. Thus, Foxa factors and their targets are central for the sexual dimorphism of HCC.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is sexually dimorphic in both rodents and humans, with significantly higher incidence in males, an effect that is dependent on sex hormones. The molecular mechanisms by which estrogens prevent and androgens promote liver cancer remain unclear. Here, we discover that sexually-dimorphic HCC is completely reversed in Foxa1- and Foxa2-deficient mice after diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Co-regulation of target genes by Foxa1/a2 and either the estrogen receptor (ERα) or the androgen receptor (AR) was increased during hepatocarcinogenesis in normal female or male mice, respectively, but was lost in Foxa1/2-deficient mice. Thus, both estrogen-dependent resistance to and androgen-mediated facilitation of HCC depend on Foxa1/2. Strikingly, single nucleotide polymorphisms at FOXA2 binding sites reduce binding of both FOXA2 and ERα to their targets in human liver, and correlate with HCC development in women. Thus, Foxa factors and their targets are central for the sexual dimorphism of HCC.
Men are at an increased risk of dying from heart failure caused by inflammatory heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). We previously showed that macrophages in the spleen are phenotypically distinct in male compared to female mice at 12 h after infection. This innate immune profile mirrors and predicts the cardiac immune response during acute myocarditis.
In order to study sex differences in the innate immune response, five male and female BALB/c mice were infected intraperitoneally with coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) or phosphate buffered saline and their spleens were harvested 12 h later for microarray analysis. Gene expression was determined using an Affymetrix Mouse Gene 1.0 ST Array. Significant gene changes were verified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction or ELISA.
During the innate immune response to CVB3 infection, infected males had higher splenic expression of genes which are important in regulating the influx of cholesterol into macrophages, such as phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and the macrophage scavenger receptor compared to the infected females. We also observed a higher expression in infected males compared to infected females of squalene synthase, an enzyme used to generate cholesterol within cells, and Cyp2e1, an enzyme important in metabolizing cholesterol and steroids. Infected males also had decreased levels of the translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO), which binds PLA2 and is the rate-limiting step for steroidogenesis, as well as decreased expression of the androgen receptor (AR), which indicates receptor activation. Gene differences were not due to increased viral replication, which was unaltered between sexes.
We found that, compared to females, male mice had a greater splenic expression of genes which are important for cholesterol metabolism and activation of the AR at 12 h after infection. Activation of the AR has been linked to increased cardiac hypertrophy, atherosclerosis, myocarditis/DCM and heart failure in male mice and humans.
Multiple sclerosis is a sexually dimorphic, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is its principal autoimmune model. Young male SJL/J mice are relatively resistant to EAE while older males and SJL/J females of any age are susceptible. By comparing a wide age range of PLP139–151-immunized mice, we found female disease severity remains constant with age. In contrast, EAE disease severity increases with age in SJL/J males, with young males having significantly less severe disease and older males having significantly more disease than equivalently aged females. To determine if the Y-chromosome contributes to this sexual dimorphism, EAE was induced in consomic SJL/J mice carrying a B10.S Y-chromosome (SJL.YB10.S). EAE was significantly more severe in young, male SJL.YB10.S mice compared to young, male SJL/J mice. These studies show that Y-chromosome-linked polymorphism controls the age-dependent EAE sexual dimorphism observed in SJL/J mice.
Autoimmunity; EAE/MS; Neuroimmunology; sex chromosomes
We present the first empirical evidence that mammalian sex-ratio deviations result from variation in adult-weight sexual dimorphism via correlated effects on blastocyst development. Two selection lines of mice exhibiting high and low sexual dimorphism in adult weight showed correlated sexual weight differences at birth and at weaning, caused by relatively decelerated growth of males in the low line from before birth. The sex ratio at birth was significantly female-biased in the low line, and significantly lower than in the highly dimorphic line. Concomitantly, blastomere numbers were at significantly higher variance in the low than in the highly dimorphic line, owing to an increased frequency of slowly growing blastocysts. Since low-dimorphism mice produced more corpora lutea and more female pups than the high-dimorphism mice, but not more males, birth sex-ratio bias most parsimoniously resulted from the loss of slowly growing male blastocysts. This is in agreement with the observation that sex-ratio skews in mammals arise when timing of uterine responsiveness (i.e. its temporally limited capacity for implantation) varies in relation to sex-specific embryonic growth rates. Hence, natural mammalian sex-ratio variation that stems from developmental asynchrony might be a by-product of natural selection for sexual dimorphism in adult weight.
The male brain is putatively organised early in development by testosterone, with the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the medial preoptic area (SDN) a main exemplifier of this. However, pubescent neurogenesis occurs in the rat SDN, and the immature testes secrete anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) as well as testosterone. We have therefore re-examined the development of the murine SDN to determine whether it is influenced by AMH and/or whether the number of calbindin-positive (calbindin+ve) neurons in it changes after pre-pubescent development.
In mice, the SDN nucleus is defined by calbindin+ve neurons (CALB-SDN). The number and size of the neurons in the CALB-SDN of male and female AMH null mutant (Amh-/-) mice and their wild-type littermates (Amh+/+) were studied using stereological techniques. Groups of mice were examined immediately before the onset of puberty (20 days postnatal) and at adulthood (129–147 days old).
The wild-type pre-pubertal male mice had 47% more calbindin+ve neurons in the CALB-SDN than their female wild-type littermates. This sex difference was entirely absent in Amh-/- mice. In adults, the extent of sexual dimorphism almost doubled due to a net reduction in the number and size of calbindin+ve neurons in females and a net increase in neuron number in males. These changes occurred to a similar extent in the Amh-/- and Amh+/+ mice. Consequently, the number of calbindin+ve neurons in Amh-/- adult male mice was intermediate between Amh+/+ males and Amh+/+ females. The sex difference in the size of the neurons was predominantly generated by a female-specific atrophy after 20 days, independent of AMH.
The establishment of dimorphic cell number in the CALB-SDN of mice is biphasic, with each phase being subject to different regulation. The second phase of dimorphism is not dependent on the first phase having occurred as it was present in the Amh-/- male mice that have female-like numbers of calbindin+ve neurons at 20 days. These observations extend emerging evidence that the organisation of highly dimorphic neuronal networks changes during puberty or afterwards. They also raise the possibility that cellular events attributed to the imprinting effects of testosterone are mediated by AMH.
Sexual dimorphic nucleus; Anti-Müllerian hormone; Puberty; Development; Childhood; Calbindin; Medial preoptic area; Imprinting
A sexual dimorphism exists in body fat distribution; females deposit relatively more fat in subcutaneous/inguinal depots whereas males deposit more fat in the intra-abdominal/gonadal depot. Our objective was to systematically document depot- and sex-related differences in the accumulation of adipose tissue and gene expression, comparing differentially expressed genes in diet-induced obese mice with mice maintained on a chow diet.
Research Design and Methods
We used a microarray approach to determine whether there are sexual dimorphisms in gene expression in age-matched male, female or ovariectomized female (OVX) C57/BL6 mice maintained on a high-fat (HF) diet. We then compared expression of validated genes between the sexes on a chow diet.
After exposure to a high fat diet for 12 weeks, females gained less weight than males. The microarray analyses indicate in intra-abdominal/gonadal adipose tissue in females 1642 genes differ by at least twofold between the depots, whereas 706 genes differ in subcutaneous/inguinal adipose tissue when compared with males. Only 138 genes are commonly regulated in both sexes and adipose tissue depots. Inflammatory genes (cytokine–cytokine receptor interactions and acute-phase protein synthesis) are upregulated in males when compared with females, and there is a partial reversal after OVX, where OVX adipose tissue gene expression is more ′male-like′. This pattern is not observed in mice maintained on chow. Histology of male gonadal white adipose tissue (GWAT) shows more crown-like structures than females, indicative of inflammation and adipose tissue remodeling. In addition, genes related to insulin signaling and lipid synthesis are higher in females than males, regardless of dietary exposure.
These data suggest that male and female adipose tissue differ between the sexes regardless of diet. Moreover, HF diet exposure elicits a much greater inflammatory response in males when compared with females. This data set underscores the importance of analyzing depot-, sex- and steroid-dependent regulation of adipose tissue distribution and function.
high-fat diet; inflammation; fat partitioning; gender dimorphism; mouse; microarray
Neonatal treatment of female mice with diethystilbestrol (DES) is known to induce ovary-independent persistent proliferation and cornification of vaginal epithelium. This irreversibly changed vaginal epithelium persistently expressed higher levels of c-jun and c-fos mRNAs, which was not altered by postpubertal estrogen. Sexual dimorphism was encountered in mouse pelvis and anococcygeus muscle. Postpubertal estrogen changed the shape of the pelvis to the female type and postpubertal androgen changed it to the male type. Neonatal exposure to DES and to the antiestrogen tamoxifen altered the developmental pattern of the pelvis, which contained lower concentrations of calcium and phosphorus than controls. The size of anococcygeus muscle was increased by postpubertal androgen but decreased by postpubertal estrogen. However, neonatal estrogen (DES) exposure permanently enlarged the anococcygeus muscle. Thus, neonatal treatment of mice with estrogen and antiestrogen results in irreversible changes in nonreproductive as well as reproductive structures.
Sexual dimorphism in anatomical, physiological, and behavioural traits characterize many vertebrate species. In humans, sexual dimorphism is also observed in the prevalence, course, and severity of many common diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, and asthma. Although sex differences in the endocrine and immune systems probably contribute to these observations, recent studies suggest that sex-specific genetic architecture also influences human phenotypes, including reproductive, physiological, and disease traits. It is likely that an underlying mechanism is differential gene regulation in males and females, particularly in sex steroid responsive genes. Genetic studies that ignore sex-specific effects in their design and interpretation could fail to identify a significant proportion of the genes that contribute to risk for complex diseases.
The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) is a xenosensing nuclear receptor and regulator of cytochrome P450s (CYPs). However, the role of CAR as a basal regulator of CYP expression nor its role in sexually dimorphic responses have been thoroughly studied. We investigated basal regulation and sexually dimorphic regulation and induction by the potent CAR activator TCPOBOP and the moderate CAR activator Nonylphenol (NP). NP is an environmental estrogen and one of the most commonly found environmental toxicants in Europe and the United States. Previous studies have demonstrated that NP induces several CYPs in a sexually dimorphic manner, however the role of CAR in regulating NP-mediated sexually dimorphic P450 expression and induction has not been elucidated. Therefore, wild-type and CAR-null male and female mice were treated with honey as a carrier, NP, or TCPOBOP and CYP expression monitored by QPCR and Western blotting. CAR basally regulates the expression of Cyp2c29, Cyp2b13, and potentially Cyp2b10 as demonstrated by QPCR. Furthermore, we observed a shift in the testosterone 6α/15α-hydroxylase ratio in untreated CAR-null female mice to the male pattern, which indicates an alteration in androgen status and suggests a role for androgens as CAR inverse agonists. Xenobiotic-treatments with NP and TCPOBOP induced Cyp2b10, Cyp2c29, and Cyp3a11 in a CAR-mediated fashion; however NP only induced these CYPs in females and TCPOBOP induced these CYPs in both males and females. Interestingly, Cyp2a4, was only induced in wild-type male mice by TCPOBOP suggesting Cyp2a4 induction is not sensitive to CAR-mediated induction in females. Overall, TCPOBOP and NP show similar CYP induction profiles in females, but widely different profiles in males potentially related to lower sensitivity of males to either indirect or moderate CAR activators such as NP. In summary, CAR regulates the basal and chemically-inducible expression of several sexually dimorphic xenobiotic metabolizing P450s in a manner that varies depending on the ligand.
constitutive androstane receptor (CAR); nonylphenol; cytochrome P450 (CYP); sexually dimorphic; liver
Most neurobehavioral diseases are sexually dimorphic in their incidence, and sex differences in the brain may be key for understanding and treating these diseases. Calbindin (Calb) D28K is used as a biomarker for the well-studied sexually dimorphic nucleus, a hypothalamic structure that is larger in males than in females. In the current study weanling C56BL/6J mice were used to examine sex differences in the Calb protein and message focusing on regions outside of the hypothalamus. A robust sex difference was found in Calb in the frontal cortex (FC) and cerebellum (CB; specifically in Purkinje cells); mRNA and protein were higher in females than in males. Using 2 mouse lines, i.e. one with a complete deletion of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and the other with uncoupled gonads and sex chromosomes, we probed the mechanisms that underlie sexual dimorphisms. In the FC, deletion of ERα reduced Calb1 mRNA in females compared to males. In addition, females with XY sex chromosomes had levels of Calb1 equal to those of males. Thus, both ERα and the sex chromosome complement regulate Calb1 in the FC. In the CB, ERα knockout mice of both sexes had reduced Calb1 mRNA, yet sex differences were retained. However, the sex chromosome complement, regardless of gonadal sex, dictated Calb1 mRNA levels. Mice with XX chromosomes had significantly greater Calb1 than did XY mice. This is the first study demonstrating that sex chromosome genes are a driving force producing sex differences in the CB and FC, which are neuoranatomical regions involved in many normal functions and in neurobehavioral diseases.
Autism; X inactivation; Sex differences; Calbindin; Fragile X
Prior to this study, no differences in gene expression between male and female dioecious plants in the vegetative state had been detected. Among dioecious plants displaying sexual dimorphism, Silene latifolia is one of the most studied species. Although many sexually dimorphic traits have been described in S. latifolia, all of them are quantitative, and they usually become apparent only after the initiation of flowering.
We present RT-PCR-based evidence that in S. latifolia, sexual dimorphism in gene expression is present long before the initiation of flowering. We describe three ESTs that show sex-specific (two male specific and one female specific) transcription at the rosette stage before the first flowering season.
To our knowledge, this study provides the first molecular evidence of early pre-flowering sexual dimorphism in angiosperms.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) exhibit marked sexual dimorphism with higher prevalences in men. Similarly, AAAs induced by angiotensin II (AngII) infusion into mice exhibit a higher prevalence in males. Testosterone promotes AAA pathology in adult male mice through regulation of angiotensin type 1A receptors (AT1aR) in abdominal aortas. However, mechanisms for sexual dimorphism of regional aortic angiotensin receptor expression and AAA formation are unknown.
To define the role of developmental testosterone exposures in sexual dimorphism of AAAs, we determined if exposure of neonatal female mice to testosterone confers adult susceptibility to AngII-induced AAAs.
Methods and Results
One day old female hypercholesterolemic mice were administered a single dose of either vehicle or testosterone. Neonatal testosterone administration increased abdominal aortic AT1aR mRNA abundance and promoted a striking increase in AngII-induced AAAs in adult females exhibiting low serum testosterone concentrations. AngII-induced atherosclerosis and ascending aortic aneurysms were also increased by testosterone administration to neonatal females. In contrast, neonatal testosterone administration in males had no effect on AngII-induced vascular pathologies. Deficiency of AT1aR in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) reduced effects of neonatal testosterone to promote AAAs in adult females, but did not alter atherosclerosis or ascending aortic aneurysms. Testosterone increased AT1aR mRNA abundance and hydrogen peroxide generation in cultured abdominal aortic SMCs. Increased AT1aR mRNA abundance was maintained during progressive passaging of female SMCs.
These data reveal an unrecognized role of transient sex hormone exposures during neonatal development as long-lasting mediators of regional aortic AT1aR expression and sexual dimorphism of AAAs.
aneurysm; sexual dimorphism; testosterone; vascular smooth muscle; angiotensin
Though stress causes complex sleep disruptions that are different in females and males, little is known about how sex influences the ability of stress to alter sleep. To date there have been no comprehensive examinations of whether effects of stress on sleep are sensitive to determinants of sex, such as reproductive hormones. Since restraint stress produces a sexually dimorphic increase in rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) amount in mice that is greater in males than females, in the current study we sought to determine whether estrogens and androgens influence the ability of restraint stress to alter sleep states. We removed the gonads from adult female and male C57BL/6J mice and implanted the mice with recording electrodes to monitor sleep-wake states. Gonadectomized females and males exhibited similar amounts of REMS in response to restraint stress. Mice were then implanted with continuous release hormone pellets. Females received 17β-estradiol and males received testosterone. Hormone replacement (HR) in females decreased the REMS response to restraint stress while HR in males increased the REMS response to restraint stress. The combined effects of HR in females and males restored the sex difference in the ability of restraint stress to alter REMS. These results demonstrate that sex differences in the effects of stress on REMS are dependent on reproductive hormones and support the view that endogenous or exogenous changes in the reproductive hormone environment influence sleep responses to stress.
gender; sex; restraint; estrogen; androgen
Nitric oxide plays an important role in the regulation of male and female sexual behavior in rodents, and the expression of the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is influenced by testosterone in the male rat, and by estrogens in the female. We have here quantitatively investigated the distribution of nNOS immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the limbic hypothalamic region of intact female mice sacrificed during different phases of estrous cycle.
Changes were observed in the medial preoptic area (MPA) (significantly higher number in estrus) and in the arcuate nucleus (Arc) (significantly higher number in proestrus). In the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial nucleus (VMHvl) and in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) no significant changes have been observed. In addition, by comparing males and females, we observed a stable sex dimorphism (males have a higher number of nNOS-ir cells in comparison to almost all the different phases of the estrous cycle) in the VMHvl and in the BST (when considering only the less intensely stained elements). In the MPA and in the Arc sex differences were detected only comparing some phases of the cycle.
These data demonstrate that, in mice, the expression of nNOS in some hypothalamic regions involved in the control of reproduction and characterized by a large number of estrogen receptors is under the control of gonadal hormones and may vary according to the rapid variations of hormonal levels that take place during the estrous cycle.
Loss-of-function mutations in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene are responsible for autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (APS-1), which commonly manifests as infertility in women. AIRE is a transcriptional regulator that promotes expression of tissue-restricted antigens in the thymus, including antigens specific to the ovary. Thymic expression of ovarian genes under AIRE's control may be critical for preventing ovarian autoimmune disease. Because mice lacking Aire are an important APS-1 model, we examined the reproductive properties of female Aire-deficient (Aire−/−) mice. Female Aire−/− mice on the BALB/c background were examined for reproductive parameters, including fertility, litter sizes, and ovarian follicular reserves. Although delayed puberty was observed in Aire−/− mice, all mice entered puberty and exhibited mating behavior. Only 50% of Aire−/− females gave an initial litter, and only 16% were able to produce two litters. Ovarian histopathologic examination revealed that 83% of previously bred females lost all ovarian follicular reserves. Among virgin females, follicular depletion was observed in 25% by 8 wk, and by 20 wk, 50%–60% of mice lost all follicles. This was associated with elevated serum follicle-stimulating hormone level and ovarian infiltration of proliferating CD3+ T lymphocytes. Ovulation rates of 6-wk-old Aire−/− mice were reduced by 22%, but this difference was not statistically significant. Finally, transplantation experiments revealed that follicular loss depended on factors extrinsic to the ovary. These results suggest that immune-mediated ovarian follicular depletion is a mechanism of infertility in Aire−/− mice. The results have important implications in the pathogenesis of ovarian autoimmune disease in women.
The autoimmune regulator is required to maintain fertility in female mice.
AIRE; autoimmune disease; autoimmune regulator; female infertility; follicle; immunology; infertility; ovarian follicles; ovary
Stroke is a sexually dimorphic disease with male gender considered a disadvatage in terms of risk and disease outcome. In intact males, stroke induces peripheral immunosuppression, characterized by decreased splenocyte numbers and proliferation and altered percentages of viable T, B and CD11b+ cells. To investigate whether the potent androgen and known immunomodulator, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), exacerbates post-stroke immunosuppression in castrated male mice after focal stroke, we evaluated the effect of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) on peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) immune responses in castrated mice with or without controlled levels of DHT. MCAO reduced spleen cell numbers in both groups, but altered T cell and B cell percentages in remaining splenocytes and concomitantly increased the percentage of CD11b+ blood cells solely in DHT-replaced animals at 24 h. Furthermore, DHT-replacement reduced splenocyte proliferation which was accompanied by an increased percentage of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells relative to castrates 96 h post-MCAO. In brain, the percentages of immune cell populations in the ischemic hemisphere relative to the non-ischemic hemisphere were similar between castrated and DHT-replaced mice after MCAO. These data suggest DHT modulates peripheral immunosuppression after MCAO but with relatively little effect on early immune response of the recovering CNS.
Ischemia; Stroke; Hormone; dihydrotestosterone; testosterone; Immunosuppression; regulatory T lymphocyte; neuroprotection
Parental investment can be used as a forecast for the environmental conditions in which offspring will develop to adulthood. In the rat, maternal behavior is transmitted to the next generation through epigenetic modifications such as methylation and histone acetylation, resulting in variations in estrogen receptor alpha expression. Natural variations in maternal care also influence the sexual strategy adult females will adopt later in life. Lower levels of maternal care are associated with early onset of puberty as well as increased motivation to mate and greater receptivity toward males during mating. Lower levels of maternal care are also correlated with greater activity of the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonadal axis, responsible for the expression of these behaviors. Contrary to the transition of maternal care, sexual behavior cannot simply be explained by maternal attention, since adoption studies changed the sexual phenotypes of offspring born to low caring mothers but not those from high caring dams. Indeed, mothers showing higher levels of licking/grooming have embryos that are exposed to high testosterone levels during development, and adoption studies suggest that this androgen exposure may protect their offspring from lower levels of maternal care. We propose that in the rat, maternal care and the in utero environment interact to influence the reproductive strategy female offspring display in adulthood and that this favors the species by allowing it to thrive under different environmental conditions.
maternal care; sexual behavior; reproductive strategies; estrogen receptor alpha; GnRH; masculinization
Males and females exhibit numerous anatomical and physiological differences in the brain which often underlie important sex differences in physiology or behavior, including aspects relating to reproduction. Neural sex differences are both region- and trait-specific and may consist of divergences in synapse morphology, neuron size and number, and specific gene expression levels. In most cases, sex differences are induced by the sex steroid hormonal milieu during early perinatal development. In rodents, the hypothalamic anteroventral periventricular nucleus (AVPV) is sexually differentiated as a result of postnatal sex steroids, and specific neuronal populations in this nucleus are also sexually dimorphic, with females possessing more kisspeptin, dopaminergic, and GABA/glutamate neurons than males. The ability of female rodents, but not males, to display an estrogen-induced luteinizing hormone (LH) surge is consistent with the higher levels of these neuropeptides in the AVPV of females. Of these AVPV populations, the recently-identified kisspeptin system has been most strongly implicated as a critical component of the sexually-dimorphic LH surge mechanism, though GABA and glutamate have also received some attention. New findings have suggested that the sexual differentiation and development of kisspeptin neurons in the AVPV is mediated by developmental estradiol signaling. Although apoptosis is the most common process implicated in neuronal sexual differentiation, it is currently unknown how developmental estradiol acts to differentiate specific neuronal populations in the AVPV, such as kisspeptin or dopaminergic neurons.
sex difference; sexually dimorphic; sexual differentiation; hypothalamus; kisspeptin; Kiss1; tyrosine hydroxylase; development; reproduction; AVPV
A transient increase in insulin resistance (IR) is a component of puberty. We investigated the impact of body composition and adipokines on IR during puberty in Chinese children. This study included 3223 schoolchildren aged 6–18 years. IR was calculated using homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR). We revealed that body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference increased gradually during puberty in both genders, while fat-mass percentage (FAT%) increased steadily only in girls. Change of leptin showed striking sexual dimorphisms: in girls leptin increased steadily during puberty, whereas in boys, after a transient rise at the beginning of puberty, leptin declined by Tanner staging even in those overweight or obese. Inversely, adiponectin level decreased significantly during puberty. In both genders, HOMA-IR started to increase at the beginning of puberty, peaked in the middle, and revised at late puberty in overweight/obesity boys while it stayed high till the end of puberty in girls and normal weight boys. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that leptin presented a stronger indicator of HOMA-IR than anthropometric measures during puberty. Our results demonstrated that gender-specific FAT% and leptin changed with pubertal development. Leptin emerged as a stronger predictor of IR than traditional anthropometric indices, suggesting a prominent role in the development of pubertal IR.
The progression of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is closely correlated with longitudinal growth during puberty. A decreased incidence of curve progression has been found in male patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis compared with female patients with the condition. This finding implies that there might be a sexual dimorphism in the pubertal growth patterns of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients. Abnormal pubertal growth in female adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients has been well characterized; however, the pubertal growth patterns of male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients have not been reported. We conducted a cross-sectional study of anthropometric measurements to compare the growth patterns of male patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with those of healthy boys during puberty and explore the difference in the pubertal growth patterns of female and male patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
A total of 688 subjects were involved in the study, including 332 male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients and 356 age-matched healthy boys. The subjects were categorized according to their chronological ages. Their body weights, heights and arm spans were obtained using standard methods; the corrected body heights of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis boys were determined using Bjour’s equation. The inter-group differences in the anthropometric parameters were analyzed. Multivariate regression analysis was carried out in the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients to identify the anthropometric parameters that influence curve severity.
The corrected standing heights and arm spans of male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients were similar to those of the matched controls during puberty. However, the body weights of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients who were more than 14 years old were significantly less than those of the control group. The body mass index of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients between the ages of 15 and 17 were also significantly less than those of the control subjects. Moreover, a significantly higher incidence of underweight was found in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients (8.6%) than in the controls (3.4%). Upon multivariate regression analysis, body weight and chronological age were identified as independent predictors of curve magnitude in male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients. The male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients with variable curve patterns exhibited no significant differences in their anthropometric parameters.
The results showed abnormal pubertal growth in the male adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients compared with their age- and gender-matched normal controls. Despite similar longitudinal growth, the male patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis exhibited significantly lower body weights and a higher incidence of underweight during the later stage of puberty compared with their normal controls. These abnormalities in the pubertal growth of male patients were different from those observed in female patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Body weight could be an important parameter for further longitudinal studies on the prognostication of curve progression in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Male; Anthropometric measurement; Underweight; Pubertal growth