Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, vol.87, no.4, pp.310-317, 2009 (SCI-Expanded)
In heart disease, differences exist between women and men with respect to the impact of risk factors, symptoms, and therapeutic responses. The use of β-adrenergic receptor blockers is now well established in the treatment of mild and moderate systolic heart failure. Although there are significant differences among agents, their clinical effects are predictable. To address the question of sex disparities in the heart, however, we investigated the effect of treatment with the non- selective β-blockers timolol and propranolol on mechanical and electrical function of heart preparations from male and female rats. We examined the long-term effects of intragastric treatment with timolol (5 mg/kg per day) or propranolol (25 mg/kg per day) for 7 months on the hemodynamic and intracellular action potential parameters of the heart. Chronic administration of timolol but not propranolol produced a significant increase in the baseline activity of the left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) in both male and female rats with no significant effect on the left ventricular end- diastolic pressure. Timolol or propranolol treatment of male rats and timolol but not propranolol treatment of female rats induced significant shortening in the repolarization phases of action potentials recorded from left ventricular papillary muscle strips of the hearts. The responses of LVDP to β-adrenergic stimulation were similar in timolol- or propranolol- treated or untreated male rats. On the other hand, timolol treatment markedly increased, and propranolol treatment significantly decreased, the responses of increase in LVDP in female rats. Our results suggest that although treatment with β-blockers for 7 months confirmed the role of the β-adrenergic pathway in heart function, there are marked differences in the effects of individual β-blockers on heart physiology. Sex differences should be taken into consideration when using β-blockers during experimental studies and clinical therapy.