Acute effects of sex steroid hormones on susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmias: A simulation study

Pei Chi Yang, Junko Kurokawa, Tetsushi Furukawa, Colleen E Clancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Acute effects of sex steroid hormones likely contribute to the observation that post-pubescent males have shorter QT intervals than females. However, the specific role for hormones in modulating cardiac electrophysiological parameters and arrhythmia vulnerability is unclear. Here we use a computational modeling approach to incorporate experimentally measured effects of physiological concentrations of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone on cardiac ion channel targets. We then study the hormone effects on ventricular cell and tissue dynamics comprised of Faber-Rudy computational models. The "female" model predicts changes in action potential duration (APD) at different stages of the menstrual cycle that are consistent with clinically observed QT interval fluctuations. The "male" model predicts shortening of APD and QT interval at physiological testosterone concentrations. The model suggests increased susceptibility to drug-induced arrhythmia when estradiol levels are high, while testosterone and progesterone are apparently protective. Simulations predict the effects of sex steroid hormones on clinically observed QT intervals and reveal mechanisms of estrogen-mediated susceptibility to prolongation of QT interval. The simulations also indicate that acute effects of estrogen are not alone sufficient to cause arrhythmia triggers and explain the increased risk of females to Torsades de Pointes. Our results suggest that acute effects of sex steroid hormones on cardiac ion channels are sufficient to account for some aspects of gender specific susceptibility to long-QT linked arrhythmias. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000658
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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