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Sex Differences in Proatherogenic Cytokine Levels

Department of Medical, Surgical, and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Cattinara Teaching Hospital UCO Medicina Clinica, 34100 Trieste, Italy
ASUGI Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Integrata di Trieste, Cattinara Teaching Hospital, UCO Medicina Clinica, 34100 Trieste, Italy
Institute for Maternal and Child Health, IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, 34100 Trieste, Italy
Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, 34100 Trieste, Italy
Unit of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences and Public Health, University of Padua, 35100 Padova, Italy
Department of Diagnostics, Azienda USL Toscana Nordovest, 57100 Livorno, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 3861;
Received: 29 April 2020 / Revised: 22 May 2020 / Accepted: 27 May 2020 / Published: 29 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender Medicine: Pharmacogenetics and Personalised Medicine)
Background: It has been shown that sex affects immunity, including cytokine production. Given that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease promoted by specific cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, we aimed at evaluating whether sex could affect the levels of these proatherogenic cytokines in a group of healthy adults. In this analysis, we also included other cytokines and peptides that have been implicated in atherosclerosis development and progression. Methods: A total of 104 healthy adults were recruited; we measured circulating levels of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, angiotensins and angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), as well as osteoprotegerin and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL). Results: IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α were significantly higher in men as compared to women. They were all associated with testosterone and the testosterone/estradiol ratio. They remained significantly associated with sex (but not with hormones) after being tested for potential confounders. Conclusions: Sex seems to influence the levels of proatherogenic cytokines. This is consistent not only with sex differences in vulnerability to infections but also with the higher cardiovascular risk exhibited by the male gender as compared to the female gender. Nevertheless, this association is only partly explained by hormone levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: sex; gender; cytokines; inflammation; atherosclerosis; IL-1β; IL-6; TNF-α; OPG; ACE2; healthy adults sex; gender; cytokines; inflammation; atherosclerosis; IL-1β; IL-6; TNF-α; OPG; ACE2; healthy adults
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bernardi, S.; Toffoli, B.; Tonon, F.; Francica, M.; Campagnolo, E.; Ferretti, T.; Comar, S.; Giudici, F.; Stenner, E.; Fabris, B. Sex Differences in Proatherogenic Cytokine Levels. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 3861.

AMA Style

Bernardi S, Toffoli B, Tonon F, Francica M, Campagnolo E, Ferretti T, Comar S, Giudici F, Stenner E, Fabris B. Sex Differences in Proatherogenic Cytokine Levels. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(11):3861.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bernardi, Stella, Barbara Toffoli, Federica Tonon, Morena Francica, Elena Campagnolo, Tommaso Ferretti, Sarah Comar, Fabiola Giudici, Elisabetta Stenner, and Bruno Fabris. 2020. "Sex Differences in Proatherogenic Cytokine Levels" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 11: 3861.

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