Gender specific aspects of cell death in the cardiovascular system

Marina Pierdominici, Elena Ortona, Flavia Franconi, Massimiliano Caprio, Elisabetta Straface, Walter Malorni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has become apparent over the past few decades that several factors can determine lethal or sublethal alterations of cardiovascularsystem cell function such as inflammatory reaction products, peptides and hormones. In turn, the loss of cellular components fromthe blood vessels wall and the heart tissue contributes to the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Hence, in the recent years,the efforts of several research groups have specifically been devoted to deeply investigate the implication of the main forms of cell injury,necrosis, apoptosis and autophagy, in the development of cardiac and blood vessel alterations associated with human diseases. Furthermore,several lines of evidence demonstrate that CVD clearly display significant gender differences in terms of onset, progression andoutcome. Cardiovascular cells contain functional estrogen and androgen receptors and are targets for sex hormone action, which can influencemany physiological and pathological processes, including vascular and myocardial cell homeostasis. However, hormones are importantbut not unique actors in this issue, further genetic and epigenetic determinants being involved. This review focuses on recent studieson the effects of gender differences, including sex hormones, on cardiac and vascular cell injury and death and their influence in determiningatherosclerosis, heart failure and other main human CVD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1055
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Cardiovascular
  • Cell death
  • Endothelial cells
  • Gender
  • Sex hormones
  • Vascular smooth muscle cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology


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