Differential regulation of cell death programs in males and females by Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1 and 17β estradiol

Cell Death Dis. 2013 Aug 8;4(8):e758. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.251.


Cell death can be divided into the anti-inflammatory process of apoptosis and the pro-inflammatory process of necrosis. Necrosis, as apoptosis, is a regulated form of cell death, and Poly-(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1 (PARP-1) and Receptor-Interacting Protein (RIP) 1/3 are major mediators. We previously showed that absence or inhibition of PARP-1 protects mice from nephritis, however only the male mice. We therefore hypothesized that there is an inherent difference in the cell death program between the sexes. We show here that in an immune-mediated nephritis model, female mice show increased apoptosis compared to male mice. Treatment of the male mice with estrogens induced apoptosis to levels similar to that in female mice and inhibited necrosis. Although PARP-1 was activated in both male and female mice, PARP-1 inhibition reduced necrosis only in the male mice. We also show that deletion of RIP-3 did not have a sex bias. We demonstrate here that male and female mice are prone to different types of cell death. Our data also suggest that estrogens and PARP-1 are two of the mediators of the sex-bias in cell death. We therefore propose that targeting cell death based on sex will lead to tailored and better treatments for each gender.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Necrosis
  • Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / physiology*
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology
  • Sex Factors


  • Estradiol
  • Parp1 protein, mouse
  • Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ripk3 protein, mouse