Journal: Biology of sex differences
The kidney functions in key physiological processes to filter blood and regulate blood pressure via key molecular transporters and ion channels. Sex-specific differences have been observed in renal disease incidence and progression, as well as acute kidney injury in response to certain drugs. Although advances have been made in characterizing the molecular components involved in various kidney functions, the molecular mechanisms responsible for sex differences are not well understood. We hypothesized that the basal expression levels of genes involved in various kidney functions throughout the life cycle will influence sex-specific susceptibilities to adverse renal events.
Most writing on sexual differentiation of the mammalian brain (including our own) considers just two organs: the gonads and the brain. This perspective, which leaves out all other body parts, misleads us in several ways. First, there is accumulating evidence that all organs are sexually differentiated, and that sex differences in peripheral organs affect the brain. We demonstrate this by reviewing examples involving sex differences in muscles, adipose tissue, the liver, immune system, gut, kidneys, bladder, and placenta that affect the nervous system and behavior. The second consequence of ignoring other organs when considering neural sex differences is that we are likely to miss the fact that some brain sex differences develop to compensate for differences in the internal environment (i.e., because male and female brains operate in different bodies, sex differences are required to make output/function more similar in the two sexes). We also consider evidence that sex differences in sensory systems cause male and female brains to perceive different information about the world; the two sexes are also perceived by the world differently and therefore exposed to differences in experience via treatment by others. Although the topic of sex differences in the brain is often seen as much more emotionally charged than studies of sex differences in other organs, the dichotomy is largely false. By putting the brain firmly back in the body, sex differences in the brain are predictable and can be more completely understood.
Sex differences in tobacco-related morbidity and mortality exist, with women experiencing more severe health consequences and greater difficulty with smoking cessation than men. One factor that likely contributes to these sex differences is menstrual cycle phase and associated neural and cognitive changes associated with ovarian hormone fluctuations across the menstrual cycle. Previously, we showed that naturally cycling, cigarette-dependent women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle showed greater reward-related neural activity and greater craving during smoking cue exposure. To better understand our results and the observed sex differences in smoking behavior and relapse, we explored potential menstrual cycle phase differences in resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in naturally cycling, cigarette-dependent women. Understanding how menstrual cycle phase affects neural processes, cognition, and behavior is a critical step in developing more efficacious treatments and in selecting the best treatment option based on a patient’s needs.
Amphiregulin (AREG) is an epidermal growth factor that is a significant mediator of tissue repair at mucosal sites, including in the lungs during influenza A virus (IAV) infection. Previous research illustrates that males of reproductive ages experience less severe disease and recover faster than females following infection with IAV.
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug. In the general population, its use has been linked to a heightened propensity for suicidal behavior (SB). We hypothesize that this association varies in patients with psychiatric disorders. SB is known to vary by sex and therefore an investigation of cannabis' association with SB must consider sex differences. The purpose of this study is to investigate the association between cannabis use and suicide attempts in men and women with psychiatric disorders.
Despite the growing numbers of men and women with opioid use disorder in Canada, sex-specific issues in treatment have not been re-examined in the current population of patients with opioid addiction. We aimed to evaluate sex differences in substance use, health, and social functioning among men and women currently receiving methadone treatment for opioid use disorder in Ontario, Canada.
During early development, testosterone plays an important role in sexual differentiation of the mammalian brain and has enduring influences on behavior. Testosterone exerts these influences at times when the testes are active, as evidenced by higher concentrations of testosterone in developing male than in developing female animals. This article critically reviews the available evidence regarding influences of testosterone on human gender-related development. In humans, testosterone is elevated in males from about weeks 8 to 24 of gestation and then again during early postnatal development. Individuals exposed to atypical concentrations of testosterone or other androgenic hormones prenatally, for example, because of genetic conditions or because their mothers were prescribed hormones during pregnancy, have been consistently found to show increased male-typical juvenile play behavior, alterations in sexual orientation and gender identity (the sense of self as male or female), and increased tendencies to engage in physically aggressive behavior. Studies of other behavioral outcomes following dramatic androgen abnormality prenatally are either too small in their numbers or too inconsistent in their results, to provide similarly conclusive evidence. Studies relating normal variability in testosterone prenatally to subsequent gender-related behavior have produced largely inconsistent results or have yet to be independently replicated. For studies of prenatal exposures in typically developing individuals, testosterone has been measured in single samples of maternal blood or amniotic fluid. These techniques may not be sufficiently powerful to consistently detect influences of testosterone on behavior, particularly in the relatively small samples that have generally been studied. The postnatal surge in testosterone in male infants, sometimes called mini-puberty, may provide a more accessible opportunity for measuring early androgen exposure during typical development. This approach has recently begun to be used, with some promising results relating testosterone during the first few months of postnatal life to later gender-typical play behavior. In replicating and extending these findings, it may be important to assess testosterone when it is maximal (months 1 to 2 postnatal) and to take advantage of the increased reliability afforded by repeated sampling.
The Fast-Track Action Committee on (the) Health Science and Technology Response to the Opioid Crisis recently released their draft report for public comment. This report provides the “roadmap” for a coordinated federal research and development response to the opioid crisis. Other than noting the important concerns regarding maternal and neonatal exposure to opioids, the report overlooks the laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological data that inform the need for further research on sex and gender differences in opioid addiction that have critical gender-based treatment and prevention implications. As we embark on research and development, investigations into the neurobiology of pain, opioid use, and addiction must include both females and males in model systems and, similarly, psychological and sociocultural investigations must study women and men. All data should be reported by sex and gender so that gender-specific treatment and prevention strategies derived from this research are provided to practitioners and the public. We encourage biomedical researchers and clinical care providers, as well as the public, to insist that a successful response to the opioid crisis should highlight the importance of understanding sex and gender differences in the current opioid epidemic.
Not including female rats or mice in neuroscience research has been justified due to the variable nature of female data caused by hormonal fluctuations associated with the female reproductive cycle. In this study, we investigated whether female rats are more variable than male rats in scientific reports of neuroscience-related traits.
Cardiovascular disease varies between sexes, suggesting male-female autonomic control differences. Insular gyri help coordinate autonomic regulation and show a sex-dependent response to a sympathetic challenge.