Sex differences in sodium deposition in human muscle and skin

Magn Reson Imaging. 2017 Feb;36:93-97. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2016.10.023. Epub 2016 Oct 27.


The aim of this work was to investigate possible sex differences in the patterns of sodium deposition between muscle and skin using sodium MRI. A total of 38 subjects were examined for comparisons: 20 males, aged 25-79years with a median age of 51; 18 females, aged 38-66years, median age 53. All subjects underwent sodium MRI scans of the calf muscles together with cross sections through four calibration standards containing known sodium contents (10mM, 20mM, 30mM, and 40mM). Tissue sodium concentrations (TSC) in muscle and skin were then calculated by comparing signal intensities between tissues and reference standards using a linear analysis. A Wilcoxon rank sum test was applied to the ΔTSC (=TSCmuscle-TSCskin) series of males and females to examine if they were significantly different. Finally, a multiple linear regression was utilized to account for the effects from two potential confounders, age and body mass index (BMI). We found that sodium content appears to be higher in skin than in muscle for men, however women tend to have higher muscle sodium than skin sodium. This sex-relevant sodium deposition is statistically significant (P=3.10×10-5) by the Wilcoxon rank sum test, and this difference in distribution seems to be more reliable with increasing age. In the multiple linear regression, gender still has a statistically significant effect (P<1.0×10-4) on the difference between sodium deposition in muscle and skin, while taking the effects of age and BMI into account.

Keywords: Gender; Muscle; Skin; Sodium MRI; Sodium deposition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Sodium / metabolism*


  • Sodium