Sex differences in cerebral ischemia: possible molecular mechanisms.
ABSTRACT Sex is emerging as an important factor in the etiology and expression of many different pathological conditions, including stroke. Initially, the levels of sex hormones were thought to be the major contributor to these sex differences, especially after puberty, when gonadal steroid levels sharply diverge between the sexes. More recently, it is recognized that sex differences also result from the organizational effects of sex hormone exposure early in development, even in the absence of hormone exposure later in life, as well as effects mediated by the sex chromosomes themselves. Epigenetic modifications of developmental genes important in sexual differentiation and the response to sex steroid hormones are also emerging as another important contributor to sex differences in disease expression. This review describes recent research on the relationship between hormones, organizational-activational effects of gonadal steroids, and epigenetic modifications in brain pathology, focusing specifically on cerebral ischemia.
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ABSTRACT: A variety of animal models have been developed for modeling ischemic stroke. The middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model has been utilized extensively, especially in rodents. While the MCAO model provides stroke researchers with an excellent platform to investigate the disease, controversial or even paradoxical results are occasionally seen in the literature utilizing this model. Various factors exert important effects on the outcome in this stroke model, including the age and sex of the animal examined. This paper discusses emerging information on the effects of age and sex on ischemic outcomes after MCAO, with an emphasis on mouse models of stroke.Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 01/2011; 2011:464701. · 2.44 Impact Factor
Article: miR-23a regulation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) contributes to sex differences in the response to cerebral ischemia.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: It is increasingly recognized that the mechanisms underlying ischemic cell death are sexually dimorphic. Stroke-induced cell death in males is initiated by the mitochondrial release of apoptosis-inducing factor, resulting in caspase-independent cell death. In contrast, ischemic cell death in females is primarily triggered by mitochondrial cytochrome c release with subsequent caspase activation. Because X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) is the primary endogenous inhibitor of caspases, its regulation may play a unique role in the response to injury in females. XIAP mRNA levels were higher in females at baseline. Stroke induced a significant decrease in XIAP mRNA in females, whereas no changes were seen in the male brain. However, XIAP protein levels were decreased in both sexes after stroke. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) predominantly induce translational repression and are emerging as a major regulators of mRNA and subsequent protein expression after ischemia. The miRNA miR-23a was predicted to bind XIAP mRNA. miR-23a directly bound the 3' UTR of XIAP, and miR-23a inhibition led to an increase in XIAP mRNA in vitro, demonstrating that XIAP is a previously uncharacterized target for miR-23a. miR-23a levels differed in male and female ischemic brains, providing evidence for sex-specific miRNA expression in stroke. Embelin, a small-molecule inhibitor of XIAP, decreased the interaction between XIAP and caspase-3 and led to enhanced caspase activity. Embelin treatment significantly exacerbated stroke-induced injury in females but had no effect in males, demonstrating that XIAP is an important mediator of sex-specific responses after stroke.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2011; 108(28):11662-7. · 9.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We previously showed that middle-aged female rats sustain a larger infarct following experimental stroke as compared to younger female rats, and paradoxically, estrogen treatment to the older group is neurotoxic. Plasma and brain insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels decrease with age. However, IGF-1 infusion following stroke, prevents estrogen neurotoxicity in middle-aged female rats. IGF1 is neuroprotective and well tolerated, but also has potentially undesirable side effects. We hypothesized that microRNAs (miRNAs) that target the IGF-1 signaling family for translation repression could be alternatively suppressed to promote IGF-1-like neuroprotection. Here, we report that two conserved IGF pathway regulatory microRNAs, Let7f and miR1, can be inhibited to mimic and even extend the neuroprotection afforded by IGF-1. Anti-mir1 treatment, as late as 4 hours following ischemia, significantly reduced cortical infarct volume in adult female rats, while anti-Let7 robustly reduced both cortical and striatal infarcts, and preserved sensorimotor function and interhemispheric neural integration. No neuroprotection was observed in animals treated with a brain specific miRNA unrelated to IGF-1 (anti-miR124). Remarkably, anti-Let7f was only effective in intact females but not males or ovariectomized females indicating that the gonadal steroid environment critically modifies miRNA action. Let7f is preferentially expressed in microglia in the ischemic hemisphere and confirmed in ex vivo cultures of microglia obtained from the cortex. While IGF-1 was undetectable in microglia harvested from the non-ischemic hemisphere, IGF-1 was expressed by microglia obtained from the ischemic cortex and was further elevated by anti-Let7f treatment. Collectively these data support a novel miRNA-based therapeutic strategy for neuroprotection following stroke.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(2):e32662. · 4.09 Impact Factor