Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism

Sex differences in ischemic stroke sensitivity are influenced by gonadal hormones, not by sex chromosome complement.

PMID 25388681


Epidemiologic studies have shown sex differences in ischemic stroke. The four core genotype (FCG) mouse model, in which the testes determining gene, Sry, has been moved from Y chromosome to an autosome, was used to dissociate the effects of sex hormones from sex chromosome in ischemic stroke outcome. Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in gonad intact FCG mice revealed that gonadal males (XXM and XYM) had significantly higher infarct volumes as compared with gonadal females (XXF and XYF). Serum testosterone levels were equivalent in adult XXM and XYM, as was serum estrogen in XXF and XYF mice. To remove the effects of gonadal hormones, gonadectomized FCG mice were subjected to MCAO. Gonadectomy significantly increased infarct volumes in females, while no change was seen in gonadectomized males, indicating that estrogen loss increases ischemic sensitivity. Estradiol supplementation in gonadectomized FCG mice rescued this phenotype. Interestingly, FCG male mice were less sensitive to effects of hormones. This may be due to enhanced expression of the transgene Sry in brains of FCG male mice. Sex differences in ischemic stroke sensitivity appear to be shaped by organizational and activational effects of sex hormones, rather than sex chromosomal complement.