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Age and Ovariectomy Abolish Beneficial Effects of Female Sex on Rat Ventricular Myocytes Exposed to Simulated Ischemia and Reperfusion
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Author: Jenna L. Ross et al.

by Jenna L. Ross, Susan E. Howlett

Sex differences in responses to myocardial ischemia have been described, but whether cardiomyocyte function is influenced by sex in the setting of ischemia and reperfusion has not been elucidated. This study compared contractions and intracellular Ca2+ in isolated ventricular myocytes exposed to ischemia and reperfusion. Cells were isolated from anesthetized 3-month-old male and female Fischer 344 rats, paced at 4 Hz (37°C), exposed to simulated ischemia (20 mins) and reperfused. Cell shortening (edge detector) and intracellular Ca2+ (fura-2) were measured simultaneously. Cell viability was assessed with Trypan blue. Ischemia reduced peak contractions and increased Ca2+ levels equally in myocytes from both sexes. However, contraction amplitudes were reduced in reperfusion in male myocytes, while contractions recovered to exceed control levels in females (62.6±5.1 vs. 140.1±15.8%; p<0.05). Only 60% of male myocytes excluded trypan blue dye after ischemia and reperfusion, while all female cardiomyocytes excluded the dye (p<0.05). Parallel experiments were conducted in myocytes from ~24-month-old female rats or 5–6-month-old rats that had an ovariectomy at 3–4 weeks of age. Beneficial effects of female sex on myocyte viability and contractile dysfunction in reperfusion were abolished in cells from 24-month-old females. Aged female myocytes also exhibited elevated intracellular Ca2+ and alternans in ischemia. Cells from ovariectomized rats displayed increased Ca2+ transients and spontaneous activity in ischemia compared to sham-operated controls. None of the myocytes from ovariectomized rats were viable after 15 minutes of ischemia, while 75% of sham cells remained viable at end of reperfusion (p<0.05). These findings demonstrate that cardiomyocytes from young adult females are more resistant to ischemia and reperfusion injury than cells from males. Age and OVX abolish these beneficial effects and induce Ca2+ dysregulation at the level of the cardiomyocyte. Thus, beneficial effects of estrogen in ischemia and reperfusion are mediated, in part, by effects on cardiomyocytes.
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