New Findings What is the topic of this review? This brief review discusses potential sex differences in arterial function across the age span, with special emphasis on the effects of oestrogen and testosterone on the vascular endothelium. What advances does it highlight? We discuss the relationship between the impacts of sex hormones on arterial function and health in the context of epidemiological evidence pertaining to the menopause and ageing. Studies performed in humans are emphasized, alongside insights from animal studies. Findings suggest that the combination of exercise and hormone administration should be potentially synergistic or additive in humans. This brief review presents historical evidence for the purported impacts of male and female sex hormones on the vasculature in humans, including effects on macro- and microvascular function and health. Impacts of ageing on hormonal changes and arterial function are considered in the context of the menopause. Physiological data are presented alongside clinical outcomes from large trials, in an attempt to rationalize disparate findings along the bench-to-bedside continuum. Finally, the theoretical likelihood that exercise and hormone treatment may induce synergistic and/or additive vascular adaptations is developed in the context of recent laboratory studies that have compared male and female responses to training. Differences between men and women in terms of the impact of age and cardiorespiratory fitness on endothelial function are addressed. Ultimately, this review highlights the paucity of high-quality and compelling evidence regarding the fundamental impact, in humans, of sex differences on arterial function and the moderating impacts of exercise on arterial function, adaptation and health at different ages in either sex.
Green, D. J., Hopkins, N. D., Jones, H., Thijssen, D. H. J., Eijsvogels, T. M. H., & Yeap, B. (2016). Sex differences in vascular endothelial function and health in humans: impacts of exercise. Experimental Physiology, 101(2), 230-242. https://doi.org/10.1113/EP085367