APR 23, 2020 10:13 PM PDT

Arteries Respond in Different Ways in Females and Males

WRITTEN BY: Lawrence Renna

An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide suffer from elevated blood pressure or hypertension. Calcium channel blockers are often used to lower a patient’s blood pressure by blocking calcium ions from entering the cells in the heart and arteries through voltage-gated calcium ion channels. Calcium ions cause the heart and arteries to strongly contract; thus, by stopping calcium ions from entering the cells, blood vessels can relax and widen. Voltage-gated calcium ion channels are collections of protein molecules with permeability for calcium ions, which regulate the concentrations of calcium inside of cells, and thus the constriction of blood vessels.

 

 

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have just published a study where they found that one of the proteins that compose ion channels and known to expand blood vessels actually has different functions in males and females. They studied a protein called Kv2.1, which is generally known to form calcium ion channels that dilate blood vessels. However, when the researchers studied both male and female arterial mice cells, they found a striking difference. Indeed, in the male cells, Kv2.1 opened up blood vessels; however, in female cells, the constriction of blood cells was observed. Until recently, researchers only used male mice to study heart disease. The impact of this oversight is beginning to emerge.

The study concluded that the Kv2.1 protein is implicated in the formation of tight clusters of calcium ion channels. Kv2.1 is expressed more in female mice cells than in male mice cells. Therefore, female mice have larger clusters of calcium ion channels. This caused increased levels of calcium ions in arterial cells resulting in constriction of the blood vessels. In arterial cells from male mice, Kv2.1 is expressed less, and the clusters of calcium ion channels are smaller, which leads to dilatation of the blood vessels. Professor Luis Fernando Santana, who was the leading researcher of the study, said: “This difference can only be attributed to the sex of the research mice.”

This study could provide an import link between what is observed in the laboratory and what is seen in a clinical setting. “We think we’ve found the physiological explanation for what some of our clinical colleagues are seeing in patients ― some high blood pressure medications tend to work better for men, while others work better for women,” said Prof. Santana. The goal of this research is to provide insight into patient (sex) specific treatments for hypertension.

 

Sources: WHO, Mayo Clinic, Drugs in Motion, UC Davis, PNAS 

About the Author
PhD
Hello! I am a scientist currently living in Southern California, although I am originally from the east coast. I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Northeastern University in 2012, and my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also had a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Irvine. I have written 25+ peer-reviewed articles, several patents, and one book chapter. I am a reviewer for scientific manuscripts, and a freelance editor and writer. Outside of science, I enjoy spending time with my family, training Jiu-Jitsu, and baking sourdough bread. I am happy to be writing for LabRoots.
You May Also Like
FEB 17, 2022
Cardiology
10 Minutes of Exercise Per Day May Increase Your Lifespan
FEB 17, 2022
10 Minutes of Exercise Per Day May Increase Your Lifespan
A quick walk around the block every day may help you live longer.
APR 17, 2022
Cancer
Do Your Easter Eggs Impact Cancer Risk?
APR 17, 2022
Do Your Easter Eggs Impact Cancer Risk?
In Christianity, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. While Easter Sunday and the days leading up to it r ...
MAY 05, 2022
Cardiology
A Sense of Purpose Improves Heart Health and Life Expectancy
MAY 05, 2022
A Sense of Purpose Improves Heart Health and Life Expectancy
A recent study has shown that life purpose and mortality are closely tied.
JUN 07, 2022
Cardiology
Overtraining Negatively Impacts Mood and Heart Rate Variability
JUN 07, 2022
Overtraining Negatively Impacts Mood and Heart Rate Variability
Athletes tend to have a worse mood and lower heart rate variability the day after intense training.
JUN 09, 2022
Cardiology
Supplements and Heart Health
JUN 09, 2022
Supplements and Heart Health
There is little evidence that supplements actually improve heart health.
AUG 03, 2022
Cardiology
Cardiovascular diseases could see sharp increase in US by 2060
AUG 03, 2022
Cardiovascular diseases could see sharp increase in US by 2060
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a collaborative research team from the ...
Loading Comments...