More than hormones: Sex differences in cardiovascular parameters after sleep loss in rats

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Although the influence of sex on sleep pattern and cardiovascular parameters is well known, knowledge regarding the effects of sleep loss on heart responses in both sexes is scarce. The present study investigated the effects of paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) and chronic sleep restriction (SR) on cardiovascular parameters and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels in male and female rats. Both groups were randomly assigned to PSD for 96 h, SR for 21 days or home-cage control. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), baroreflex sensitivity (bradycardia and tachycardia responses) and ACTH levels were evaluated. The results showed that PSD induced a significant increase in HR and ACTH levels in both sexes, although male rats presented higher levels of ACTH hormone compared to females. In addition to sex-specific responses, PSD decreased the tachycardia only in male rats. SR, induced a significant increase in MAP and decrease in bradycardia in both sexes. Male rats were more affected by sleep deprivation protocols than females for MAP, bradycardia response, and ACTH levels. The results showed that the effects of sleep loss on cardiovascular parameters are associated with the protocol of sleep deprivation and that sex can modulate these effects. We suggested this experimental model as a suitable tool for further investigations of the relationship between cardiovascular parameters and sleep.Highlights▪ Our society is constantly deprived of sleep. ▪ Different sleep deprivation protocols induced specific alterations in heart response. ▪ Sex can potentiate the consequences of sleep deprivation on cardiovascular parameters.

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