Intracellular signaling mechanisms of sex hormones in acute myocardial inflammation and injury

Daniel R. Meldrum, Meijing Wang, Ben M. Tsai, Ajay Kher, Jeffrey M. Pitcher, John W. Brown, Kirstan K. Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

27 Scopus citations


Sex hormones are important modifiers of the acute inflammatory response to injury, an important aspect of myocardial depression and apoptosis following ischemia or endotoxemia. Hemorrhage, trauma, ischemia/reperfusion, burn and sepsis each lead to cardiac dysfunction. Gender has been shown to influence the inflammatory response as well as outcomes following acute injury. The mechanisms by which sex affects the inflammatory response and the outcome to acute injury are being actively investigated. It is now recognized that myocardial inflammation plays a crucial role in I/R-induced myocardial dysfunction. Inflammatory mediators, such as TNF-alpha are produced by cardiomyocytes and contribute to myocardial functional depression and apoptosis. Gender differences in the inflammatory response following burn injury have been demonstrated. However, gender differences in the setting of acute I/R-induced inflammation are unclear. In addition, a critical component of the signal transduction pathway leading to myocardial inflammation is the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). In other systems, it appears that gender differences exist in the p38 MAPK signaling pathway. The inflammatory response, including the p38 MAPK signaling cascade and expression of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-1beta, may precipitate cardiomyocyte apoptosis following I/R injury. Apoptosis may be an essential component in the pathogenesis of heart failure, and there is evidence that myocyte apoptosis in the failing human heart is markedly lower in women than in men. The prevention of cell death attenuates I/R-induced injury on myocardial anatomy and performance. This review will: 1) examine evidence for gender differences in the outcome to acute injury; 2) explain the myocardial inflammatory response to acute injury: and 3) elucidate the various mechanisms by which gender and sex hormones affect the myocardial response to acute injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1835-1867
Number of pages33
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Cytokines
  • Estrogen
  • Gender
  • Heart
  • IL-1
  • IL-6
  • Injury
  • Ischemia
  • Myocardium
  • Review
  • Sex Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • TNF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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