Hypertension is a major contributor to worldwide morbidity and mortality rates related to cardiovascular disease. There are important sex differences in the onset and rate of hypertension in humans. Compared with age-matched men, premenopausal women are less likely to develop hypertension. However, after age 60, the incidence of hypertension increases in women and even surpasses that seen in older men. It is thought that changes in levels of circulating ovarian hormones as women age may be involved in the increase in hypertension in older women. One of the key mechanisms involved in the development of hypertension in both men and women is an increase in sympathetic nerve activity (SNA). Brain regions important for the regulation of SNA, such as the subfornical organ, the paraventricular nucleus and the rostral ventral lateral medulla, also express specific subtypes of oestrogen receptors. Each of these brain regions has also been implicated in mechanisms underlying risk factors for hypertension such as obesity, stress and inflammation. The present review brings together evidence that links actions of oestrogen at these receptors to modulate some of the common brain mechanisms involved in the ability of hypertensive risk factors to increase SNA and blood pressure. Understanding the mechanisms by which oestrogen acts at key sites in the brain for the regulation of SNA is important for the development of novel, sex-specific therapies for treating hypertension.
Review Article| November 30 2015
Sex, the brain and hypertension: brain oestrogen receptors and high blood pressure risk factors
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Meredith Hay; Sex, the brain and hypertension: brain oestrogen receptors and high blood pressure risk factors. Clin Sci (Lond) 1 January 2016; 130 (1): 9–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/CS20150654
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