Sexual dimorphism of metabolic and vascular dysfunction in aged mice and those lacking the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 3
Elderly people often suffer adverse health because of inflammation associated with poor metabolism and cardiovascular dysfunction, but these conditions present differently in men and women. We performed experiments in aged male and female mice to understand this sexual dimorphism. We focused on sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) signaling, which has both protective and detrimental effects on vascular and metabolic function. We examined vascular function of mesenteric (resistance) arteries from aged male and female wild-type (WT) mice compared to littermate S1P receptor 3 (S1PR3) knockouts (KO). We also measured plasma glucose, insulin, triglycerides, adiponectin, corticosterone and inflammatory cytokines. The novel results of this study are: 1) methacholine-induced vasodilation relied completely on S1PR3 in both sexes, but was dependent on nitric oxide synthase (NOS) only in arteries from aged female mice; 2) S1P-induced vasoconstriction depended solely on S1PR3 in arteries from males, but only partly in females; 3) vasoconstriction to a thromboxane mimetic was decreased by endogenous NOS activity only in arteries from females, regardless of genotype; 4) myogenic responses were lower in arteries from aged WT males compared to females and responses in arteries from KO females were lower than WT females, while the opposite was true of arteries from male mice; 5) aged male mice showed higher fasting glucose and triglycerides with lower plasma adiponectin compared to females and 6) lack of signaling through S1PR3 in females was associated with decreased plasma adiponectin and increased inflammatory mediators. This study showed that there is considerable sexual dimorphism in the vascular and metabolic responses of aged mice and that reduced signaling through S1PR3 could be one mechanism to explain these effects. These results also emphasize that different treatments for mitigating the deleterious effects on vascular health in aged males versus females should be considered.