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Physiol Genomics. 2011 Apr 12;43(7):346-56. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00203.2010. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Functional proteomic analysis reveals sex-dependent differences in structural and energy-producing myocardial proteins in rat model of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.


Long-term ethanol exposure leads to a sexually dimorphic response in both the susceptibility to cardiac pathology (protective effect of the female heart) and the expression of selected myocardial proteins. The purpose of the present study was to use proteomics to examine the effect of chronic alcohol consumption on a broader array of cardiac proteins and how these were affected between the sexes. Male and female rats were maintained for 18 wk on a 40% ethanol-containing diet in which alcohol was provided in drinking water and agar blocks. Differences in the content of specific cardiac proteins in isopycnic centrifugal fractions were determined using mass spectrometry on iTRAQ-labeled tryptic fragments. A random effects model of meta-analysis was developed to combine the results from multiple iTRAQ experiments. Analysis of a network of proteins involved in cardiovascular system development and function showed that troponins were oppositely regulated by alcohol exposure in females (upregulated) vs. males (downregulated), and this effect was validated by Western blot analysis. Pathway analysis also revealed that alcohol-consuming males showed increased expression of proteins involved in various steps of oxidative phosphorylation including complexes I, III, IV, and V, whereas females showed no change or decreased content. One implication from these findings is that females may be protected from the toxic effects of alcohol due to their ability to maintain contractile function, maintain efficiency of force generation, and minimize oxidative stress. However, the alcohol-induced insult may lead to increased production of reactive oxygen species and structural abnormalities in male myocardium.

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