1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
2. National Laboratory of Gender Medicine of the National Institute of Biostructures and Biosystems, Osilo, Italy
3. SC Diabetologia Aziendale ASL 2 Olbia, San Giovanni di Dio Hospital, Olbia, Italy
4. Department of internal medicine and medical specialties, Sapienza University of Rome
5. Quality Control Unit, Hospital University of Sassari (AOU), Sassari, Italy
6. Assessorato alle Politiche per la Persona of Basilicata Region, Italy
Background: Gender medicine requires a global analysis of an individual's life. Menopause and ageing induce variations of some cardiometabolic parameters, but, it is unknown if this occurs in a sex-specific manner. Here, some markers of oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction are analysed in men younger and older than 45 years and in pre- and postmenopausal women.
Methods: Serum and plasma sample were assayed for TNF-α and IL-6, malondialdehyde and protein carbonyls and for methylated arginines using ELISA kits, colorimetric methods and capillary electrophoresis.
Results: Before body weight correction, men overall had higher creatinine, red blood cells and haemoglobin and lower triglycerides than women. Men younger than 45 years had lower levels of TNF-α and malondialdehyde and higher levels of arginine than age-matched women, while postmenopausal women had higher IL-6 concentrations than men, and higher total cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine and IL-6 levels than younger women. Men younger than 45 years had lower total cholesterol and malondialdehyde than older men. After correction, some differences remained, others were amplified, others disappeared and some new differences emerged. Moreover, some parameters showed a correlation with age, and some of them correlated with each other as functions of ageing and ageing/menopausal status.
Conclusions: Ageing/menopausal status increased many more cardiovascular risk factors in women than ageing in men, confirming that postmenopausal women had increased vascular vulnerability and indicating the need of early cardiovascular prevention in women. Sex-gender differences are also influenced by body weight, indicating as a matter of debate whether body weight should be seen as a true confounder or as part of the causal pathway.
Keywords: Ageing, Ageing/menopausal status, gender, oxidative stress, inflammation, endothelial function.