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Many complex human phenotypes exhibit sex-differentiated characteristics. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these differences remain largely unknown. We generated a catalog of sex differences in gene expression and in the genetic regulation of gene expression across 44 human tissue sources surveyed by the Genotype-Tissue Expression project (GTEx, v8 release). We demonstrate that sex influences gene expression levels and cellular composition of tissue samples across the human body. A total of 37% of all genes exhibit sex-biased expression in at least one tissue. We identify cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) with sex-differentiated effects and characterize their cellular origin. By integrating sex-biased eQTLs with genome-wide association study data, we identify 58 gene-trait associations that are driven by genetic regulation of gene expression in a single sex. These findings provide an extensive characterization of sex differences in the human transcriptome and its genetic regulation.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
BACKGROUND - Sex differences mediating predisposition to kidney injury are well known, with evidence indicating lower CKD incidence rates and slower decline in renal function in nondiabetic CKD for premenopausal women compared with men. However, signaling pathways involved have not been elucidated to date. The EGF receptor (EGFR) is widely expressed in the kidney in glomeruli and tubules, and persistent and dysregulated EGFR activation mediates progressive renal injury.
METHODS - To investigate the sex differences in response to renal injury, we examined EGFR expression in mice, in human kidney tissue, and in cultured cell lines.
RESULTS - In wild type mice, renal mRNA and protein EGFR levels were comparable in males and females at postnatal day 7 but were significantly lower in age-matched adult females than in adult males. Similar gender differences in renal EGFR expression were detected in normal adult human kidneys. In Dsk5 mutant mice with a gain-of-function allele that increases basal EGFR kinase activity, males had progressive glomerulopathy, albuminuria, loss of podocytes, and tubulointerstitial fibrosis, but female Dsk5 mice had minimal kidney injury. Oophorectomy had no effect on renal EGFR levels in female Dsk5 mice, while castration protected against the kidney injury in male Dsk5 mice, in association with a reduction in EGFR expression to levels seen in females. Conversely, testosterone increased EGFR expression and renal injury in female Dsk5 mice. Testosterone directly stimulated EGFR expression in cultured kidney cells.
CONCLUSIONS - These studies indicate that differential renal EGFR expression plays a role in the sex differences in susceptibility to progressive kidney injury that may be mediated at least in part by testosterone.
Copyright © 2019 by the American Society of Nephrology.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) coordinates behavioral responses to stress through a variety of presynaptic and postsynaptic receptors distributed across functionally diverse neuronal networks in the central nervous system. Efferent 5-HT projections from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) are generally thought to enhance anxiety and aversive learning by activating 5-HT receptor (5-HTR) signaling in the BNST, although an opposing role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors has recently been suggested. In the present study, we sought to delineate a role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors in the BNST in aversive behaviors using a conditional knockdown of the 5-HT receptor. Both males and females were tested to dissect out sex-specific effects. We found that male mice have significantly reduced fear memory recall relative to female mice and inactivation of 5-HT receptor in the BNST increases contextual fear conditioning in male mice so that they resemble the females. This coincided with an increase in neuronal excitability in males, suggesting that 5-HT receptor deletion may enhance contextual fear recall by disinhibiting fear memory circuits in the BNST. Interestingly, 5-HT receptor knockdown did not significantly alter anxiety-like behavior in male or female mice, which is in agreement with previous findings that anxiety and fear are modulated by dissociable circuits in the BNST. Overall, these results suggest that BNST 5-HT receptors do not significantly alter behavior under basal conditions, but can act as a molecular brake that buffer against excessive activation of aversive circuits in more threatening contexts.
OBJECTIVES - Physical frailty (or loss of physiologic reserve) is associated with cognitive impairment and dementia. Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) may represent early pathologic changes of dementia. The association between these disease markers is unclear.
DESIGN - Cross-sectional analysis.
SETTING - Community-based participants from the Vanderbilt Memory & Aging Project.
PARTICIPANTS - A total of 306 older adults with normal cognition (NC; n = 174) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n = 132).
MEASUREMENTS - Frailty was measured using standard methods, and a composite frailty score was calculated. SCD was quantified using the Everyday Cognition Scale (ECog; total score and four domain scores). Objective cognition was assessed with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Proportional odds models, stratified by sex, related the frailty composite to MoCA and total ECog score adjusting for age, education, body mass index, cognitive diagnosis, depressed mood, Framingham Stroke Risk Profile, apolipoprotein E (APOE ε4) carrier status, and height (for gait speed models). Secondary models related individual frailty components to SCD domains and explored associations in NC only.
RESULTS - In women, frailty composite was related to MoCA (odds ratio [OR] = .56; P = .04), a finding attenuated in sensitivity analysis (OR = .59; P = .08). Frailty composite related to ECog total (OR = 2.27; P = .02), planning (OR = 2.63; P = .02), and organization scores (OR = 2.39; P = .03). Increasing gait speed related to lower ECog total (OR = .06; P = .003) and memory scores (OR = .03; P < .001). Grip strength related to lower ECog planning score (OR = .91; P = .04). In men, frailty was unrelated to objective and subjective cognition (P values >.07). Findings were consistent in the NC group.
CONCLUSION - Frailty component and composite scores are related to SCD before the presence of overt dementia. Results suggest that this association is present before overt cognitive impairment. Results suggest a possible sex difference in the clinical manifestation of frailty, with primary associations noted in women. Further studies should investigate mechanisms linking early changes among frailty, SCD, and cognition. J Am Geriatr Soc, 1-9, 2019. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:1803-1811, 2019.
© 2019 The American Geriatrics Society.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS - Circulating levels of oxidized lipoprotein (oxLDL) correlate with myocardial infarction risk and atherosclerosis severity. Our previous study demonstrates that oxLDL immune complexes (oxLDL-ICs) can signal through FcγRs on bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) and enhance their activation and inflammatory cytokine secretion. While global FcγR studies have shown that activating FcγRs are proatherogenic, the role of the inhibitory FcγRIIb is unclear. We sought to determine the role of DC-specific FcγRIIb in atherosclerosis.
METHODS - Bone marrow chimeras were generated by rescuing lethally irradiated Ldlr mice with hematopoietic cells from littermate CD11c-Cre or CD11c-CreFcgr2b donors. Four weeks following transplant, recipients were placed on a Western diet for eight weeks. Various tissues and organs were analyzed for differences in inflammation.
RESULTS - Quantitation of atherosclerosis in the proximal aorta demonstrated a 58% increase in female CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients, but a surprising 44% decrease in male recipients. Hepatic cholesterol and triglycerides were increased in female CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients. This was associated with an increase in CD36 and MHC Class II expression on hepatic CD11cCD11b DCs in female livers. In contrast, male CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients had decreased hepatic lipids with a corresponding decrease in CD36 and MHC Class II expression on CD11c cells. Interestingly, both sexes of CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients had significant decreases in serum cholesterol and TGs with corresponding decreases in liver Fasn transcripts.
CONCLUSIONS - The absence of FcγRIIb expression on CD11c cells results in sex-dependent alteration in liver inflammation influencing atherogenesis and sex-independent modulation of serum cholesterol and TGs.
Published by Elsevier B.V.
Fluorescent protein reporter genes are widely used to identify and sort murine pancreatic β-cells. In this study, we compared use of the MIP-GFP transgene, which exhibits aberrant expression of human growth hormone (hGH), with a newly derived Ins2 allele that lacks hGH expression on the expression of sex-specific genes. β-Cells from MIP-GFP transgenic mice exhibit changes in the expression of 7,733 genes, or greater than half of their transcriptome, compared with β-cells from Ins2 mice. To determine how these differences might affect a typical differential gene expression study, we analyzed the effect of sex on gene expression using both reporter lines. Six hundred fifty-seven differentially expressed genes were identified between male and female β-cells containing the Ins2 allele. Female β-cells exhibit higher expression of Xist, Tmed9, Arpc3, Eml2, and several islet-enriched transcription factors, including Nkx2-2 and Hnf4a, whereas male β-cells exhibited a generally higher expression of genes involved in cell cycle regulation. In marked contrast, the same male vs. female comparison of β-cells containing the MIP-GFP transgene revealed only 115 differentially expressed genes, and comparison of the 2 lists of differentially expressed genes revealed only 17 that were common to both analyses. These results indicate that 1) male and female β-cells differ in their expression of key transcription factors and cell cycle regulators and 2) the MIP-GFP transgene may attenuate sex-specific differences that distinguish male and female β-cells, thereby impairing the identification of sex-specific variations.
OBJECTIVES - To investigate the association between green tea intake and incident stones in two large prospective cohorts.
METHODS - We examined self-reported incident kidney stone risk in the Shanghai Men's Health Study (n = 58 054; baseline age 40-74 years) and the Shanghai Women's Health Study (n = 69 166; baseline age 40-70 years). Information on the stone history and tea intake was collected by in-person surveys. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were adjusted for baseline demographic variables, medical history and dietary intakes including non-tea oxalate from a validated food frequency questionnaire.
RESULTS - During 319 211 and 696 950 person-years of follow up, respectively, 1202 men and 1451 women reported incident stones. Approximately two-thirds of men and one-quarter of women were tea drinkers at baseline, of whom green tea was the primary type consumed (95% in men, 88% in women). Tea drinkers (men: hazard ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.69-0.88; women: hazard ratio 0.8, 95% confidence interval 0.77-0.98) and specifically green tea drinkers (men: hazard ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.69-0.88; women: hazard ratio 0.84, 95% confidence interval 0.74-0.95) had lower incident risk than never/former drinkers. Compared with never/former drinkers, a stronger dose-response trend was observed for the amount of dried tea leaf consumed/month by men (hazard ratio 0.67, 95% confidence interval 0.56-0.80, P < 0.001) than by women (hazard ratio 0.87, 95% confidence interval 0.70-1.08, P = 0.041).
CONCLUSIONS - Green tea intake is associated with a lower risk of incident kidney stones, and the benefit is observed more strongly among men.
© 2018 The Japanese Urological Association.
RATIONALE - Sex differences in the dopaminergic response to psychostimulants could have implications for drug abuse risk and other psychopathology involving the dopamine system, but human data are limited and mixed.
OBJECTIVES - Here, we sought to investigate sex differences in dopamine release after oral D-amphetamine administration.
METHODS - We used [F]fallypride positron emission tomography (PET) to measure the change in dopamine D2/3 receptor availability (%ΔBP, an index of dopamine release) between placebo and D-amphetamine sessions in two independent datasets containing a total of 39 females (on either hormonal birth control n = 18, postmenopausal n = 10, or studied in the first 10 days of their menstrual cycle n = 11) and 37 males.
RESULTS - Using both a priori anatomical regions of interest based on previous findings and voxelwise analyses, we failed to consistently detect broad sex differences in D-amphetamine-induced dopamine release. Nevertheless, there was limited evidence for greater right ventral striatal dopamine release in young adult males relative to similarly aged females, but this was not consistently observed across samples. Plasma estradiol did not correlate with dopamine release and this measure did not differ in females on and off hormonal birth control.
CONCLUSIONS - While our finding in young adults from one dataset of greater %ΔBP in males is partially consistent with a previously published study on sex differences in D-amphetamine-induced dopamine release, our data do not support the presence of consistent widespread sex differences in this measure of dopamine release.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β 42 (Aβ42) and tau have been evaluated as endophenotypes in Alzheimer's disease (AD) genetic studies. Although there are sex differences in AD risk, sex differences have not been evaluated in genetic studies of AD endophenotypes. We performed sex-stratified and sex interaction genetic analyses of CSF biomarkers to identify sex-specific associations. Data came from a previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) of CSF Aβ42 and tau (1527 males, 1509 females). We evaluated sex interactions at previous loci, performed sex-stratified GWAS to identify sex-specific associations, and evaluated sex interactions at sex-specific GWAS loci. We then evaluated sex-specific associations between prefrontal cortex (PFC) gene expression at relevant loci and autopsy measures of plaques and tangles using data from the Religious Orders Study and Rush Memory and Aging Project. In Aβ42, we observed sex interactions at one previous and one novel locus: rs316341 within SERPINB1 (p = 0.04) and rs13115400 near LINC00290 (p = 0.002). These loci showed stronger associations among females (β = - 0.03, p = 4.25 × 10; β = 0.03, p = 3.97 × 10) than males (β = - 0.02, p = 0.009; β = 0.01, p = 0.20). Higher levels of expression of SERPINB1, SERPINB6, and SERPINB9 in PFC was associated with higher levels of amyloidosis among females (corrected p values < 0.02) but not males (p > 0.38). In total tau, we observed a sex interaction at a previous locus, rs1393060 proximal to GMNC (p = 0.004), driven by a stronger association among females (β = 0.05, p = 4.57 × 10) compared to males (β = 0.02, p = 0.03). There was also a sex-specific association between rs1393060 and tangle density at autopsy (p = 0.047; p = 0.96), and higher levels of expression of two genes within this locus were associated with lower tangle density among females (OSTN p = 0.006; CLDN16 p = 0.002) but not males (p ≥ 0.32). Results suggest a female-specific role for SERPINB1 in amyloidosis and for OSTN and CLDN16 in tau pathology. Sex-specific genetic analyses may improve understanding of AD's genetic architecture.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Although the incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) varies with age, few studies have examined variations between the sexes. We therefore used population data from established cohorts to analyze sex differences in IBD incidence according to age at diagnosis.
METHODS - We identified population-based cohorts of patients with IBD for which incidence and age data were available (17 distinct cohorts from 16 regions of Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand). We collected data through December 2016 on 95,605 incident cases of Crohn's disease (CD) (42,831 male and 52,774 female) and 112,004 incident cases of ulcerative colitis (UC) (61,672 male and 50,332 female). We pooled incidence rate ratios of CD and UC for the combined cohort and compared differences according to sex using random effects meta-analysis.
RESULTS - Female patients had a lower risk of CD during childhood, until the age range of 10-14 years (incidence rate ratio, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.53-0.93), but they had a higher risk of CD thereafter, which was statistically significant for the age groups of 25-29 years and older than 35 years. The incidence of UC did not differ significantly for female vs male patients (except for the age group of 5-9 years) until age 45 years; thereafter, men had a significantly higher incidence of ulcerative colitis than women.
CONCLUSIONS - In a pooled analysis of population-based studies, we found age at IBD onset to vary with sex. Further studies are needed to investigate mechanisms of sex differences in IBD incidence.
Copyright © 2018 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.