Sex-specific differences in renin-angiotensin-system (RAS) and arterial pressure have been evidenced in many mammals including spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). Although SHRs have been used extensively as a leading experimental model of hypertension, effects of sex-specific differences in RAS on aortic function and related cardiac remodeling during aging and hypertension have not been documented in detail. We examined structural and functional changes in aorta and heart of female and male SHRs at ages of 5, 14, 29 and 36-weeks. SHRs of both sexes were hypertensive from 14-weeks. Aortic endothelial dysfunction and fibrosis, left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy and cardiac fibrosis was evident at the age of 29-weeks in male SHRs, but first appeared only at the age of 36-weeks in female SHRs. There was a pronounced delay of matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity in aorta and heart of female SHRs, which was associated with preservation of 40 % more elastin and less extensive cardiac fibrosis than in males. At 5, 29 and 36-weeks of age female SHRs showed higher levels of aortic and myocardial AT2R and MasR mRNA and decreased ANGII-mediated aortic constriction. While female SHRs had increased relaxation to AT2R stimulation at 5 and 29-weeks compared to males, this difference disappeared at 36-weeks of age. This study documents sex-specific differences in the temporal progression of aortic dysfunction and LV hypertrophy in SHRs which are independent of arterial pressure and are apparently mediated by higher AT2R expression in the heart and aorta of female SHRs.
- angiotensin type 2 receptor
- sex characteristics
- aortic remodeling
- cardiac remodeling
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology