Sex Differences in Mouse Cardiac Electrophysiology Revealed by Simultaneous Imaging of Excitation-Contraction Coupling

J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2023 Nov 29;10(12):479. doi: 10.3390/jcdd10120479.


Males and females differ in the basic anatomy and physiology of the heart. Sex differences are evident in cardiac repolarization in humans; women have longer corrected QT and JT intervals. However, the molecular mechanisms that lead to these differences are incompletely understood. Here, we present that, like in humans, sex differences in QT and JT intervals exist in mouse models; female mice had longer corrected QT and JT intervals compared with age-matched males. To further understand the molecular underpinning of these sex differences, we developed a novel technology using fluorescent confocal microscopy that allows the simultaneous visualization of action potential, Ca2+ transients, and contractions in isolated cardiomyocytes at a high temporal resolution. From this approach, we uncovered that females at baseline have increased action potential duration, decreased Ca2+ release and reuptake rates, and decreased contraction and relaxation velocities compared with males. Additionally, males had a shorter overall time from action potential onset to peak contraction. In aggregate, our studies uncovered male and female differences in excitation-contraction coupling that account for differences observed in the EKG. Overall, a better understanding of sex differences in electrophysiology is essential for equitably treating cardiac disease.

Keywords: cardiac electrophysiology; excitation-contraction coupling; sex differences.