Gender differences in the expression of heat shock proteins: The effect of estrogen

M. R. Voss, J. N. Stallone, Min Li, R. N M Cornelussen, P. Knuefermann, Anne A Knowlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The heat shock proteins (HSPs) are an important family of endogenous, protective proteins that are found in all tissues. In the heart, HSP72, the inducible form of HSP70, has been the most intensely studied. It is well established that HSP72 is induced with ischemia and is cardioprotective. Overexpression of other HSPs also is protective against cardiac injury. Recently, we observed that 17β-estradiol increases levels of HSPs in male rat cardiac myocytes. We hypothesized that there were gender differences in HSP72 expression in the heart secondary to estrogen. To test this hypothesis, we examined cardiac levels of HSP72 by ELISA in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. In addition, three other HSPs were assessed by Western blot (HSP27, HSP60, and HSP90). To determine whether estrogen status affected HSP72 expression in other muscles or tissues, two other muscle tissues, slow twitch muscle (soleus muscle) and fast twitch muscle (gastrocnemius muscle), were studied as well as two other organs, the kidney and liver. Because HSP72 is cardioprotective, and females are known to have less cardiovascular disease premenopause, the effects of ovariectomy were examined. We report that female Sprague-Dawley rat hearts have twice as much HSP72 as male hearts. Ovariectomy reduced the level of HSP72 in female hearts, and this could be prevented by estrogen replacement therapy. These data show that the expression of cardiac HSP72 is greater in female rats than in male rats, due to upregulation by estrogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 54-2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Hormones
  • Ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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