Sex Differences in Right Ventricular Dysfunction: Insights From the Bench to Bedside

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11 Scopus citations


There are inherent distinctions in right ventricular (RV) performance based on sex as females have better RV function than males. These differences are magnified and have very important prognostic implications in two RV-centric diseases, pulmonary hypertension (PH), and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D). In both PH and ARVC/D, RV dysfunction results in poor patient outcomes. However, there are no currently approved therapies specifically targeting the failing RV, an important unmet need for these two life-threatening disorders. In this review, we highlight human data demonstrating divergent RV phenotypes in healthy, PH, and ARVC/D patients based on sex. Furthermore, we discuss the links between estrogen (the female predominant sex hormone), testosterone (the male predominant sex hormone), and dehydroepiandrosterone (a precursor hormone for multiple sex hormones in males and females) and RV function in both disorders. To provide potential mechanistic insights into sex differences in RV function, we review data that investigate how sex hormones combat or contribute to pathophysiological changes in the RV. Finally, we highlight the ongoing clinical trials in pulmonary arterial hypertension targeting estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone signaling. Hopefully, a greater understanding of the factors that promote superior RV function in females will lead to novel therapeutic approaches to combat RV dysfunction in PH and ARVC/D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number623129
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Jan 18 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Cynthia Faraday for her assistance with designing the figures. Funding. SP was funded by NIH T32 HL144472, a University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science award (NIH UL1 TR002494), and a University of Minnesota Medical School Academic Investment Educational Program grant. KP was funded by NIH K08 HL140100, the Jenesis Award from United Therapeutics, a Lillehei Heart Institute Cardiovascular Seed Grant, and the Cardiovascular Medical Research and Education Fund. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the NIH or any other funding sources.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Keen, Prisco and Prins.


  • arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • estrogen
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • right ventricle
  • sex differences
  • testosterone


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