Sex differences in expression of calcium-handling proteins and beta-adrenergic receptors in rat heart ventricle

Sang Hui Chu, Karen Sutherland, Jenny Beck, Jill Kowalski, Paul Goldspink, Dorie Schwertz

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Human studies reveal sex differences in myocardial function as well as in the incidence and manifestation of heart disease. Myocellular Ca2+ cycling regulates normal contractile function; whereas cardiac dysfunction in heart failure has been associated with alterations in Ca2+-handling proteins. Beta-adrenergic receptor (β-AR) signaling regulates activity of several Ca2+-handling proteins and alterations in β-AR signaling are associated with heart disease. This study examines sex differences in expression of β1-AR, β2-AR, and Ca 2+-handling proteins including: L-type calcium channel (Ca v1.2), ryanodine calcium-release channels (RyR), sarcoplasmic reticular Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA2), phospholamban (PLB) and Na +-Ca2+ exchange protein (NCX) in healthy hearts from male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. Protein levels were examined using Western blot analysis. Abundance of mRNA was determined by real time RT-PCR normalized to abundance of GAPDH mRNA. Contraction parameters were measured in right ventricular papillary muscle in the presence and absence of isoproterenol. Results demonstrate that female ventricle has significantly higher levels of Cav1.2, RyR, and NCX protein compared to males. Messenger RNA abundance for RyR, and NCX protein was significantly higher in females whereas Cav1.2 mRNA was higher in males. No differences were detected in β-ARs, SERCA2 or PLB. Female right papillary muscle had a faster maximal rate of force development and decline (± dF/dt). There were no sex differences in response to isoproterenol. Results show significant sex differences in expression of key ventricular Ca2+-handling proteins that are associated with small functional differences in ± dF/dt. Further studies will determine whether differences in the abundance of these key proteins play a role in sex disparities in the incidence and manifestation of heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2735-2749
Number of pages15
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr 22

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust (to DW Schwertz) and by the Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program of Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF, to SH Chu).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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