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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2009;27(3):163-79. doi: 10.3233/RNN-2009-0467.

Mechanisms of gender-linked ischemic brain injury.

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Department of Anesthesiology & Peri-Operative Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, UHS-2, Portland, OR 97239-3098, USA.


Biological sex is an important determinant of stroke risk and outcome. Women are protected from cerebrovascular disease relative to men, an observation commonly attributed to the protective effect of female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. However, sex differences in brain injury persist well beyond the menopause and can be found in the pediatric population, suggesting that the effects of reproductive steroids may not completely explain sexual dimorphism in stroke. We review recent advances in our understanding of sex steroids (estradiol, progesterone and testosterone) in the context of ischemic cell death and neuroprotection. Understanding the molecular and cell-based mechanisms underlying sex differences in ischemic brain injury will lead to a better understanding of basic mechanisms of brain cell death and is an important step toward designing more effective therapeutic interventions in stroke.

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