Newer insights into the pathobiological and pharmacological basis of the sex disparity in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

Tanvirul Hye, Pankaj Dwivedi, Wei Li, Tim Lahm, Eva Nozik-Grayck, Kurt R. Stenmark, Fakhrul Ahsan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) affects more women than men, although affected females tend to survive longer than affected males. This sex disparity in PAH is postulated to stem from the diverse roles of sex hormones in disease etiology. In animal models, estrogens appear to be implicated not only in pathologic remodeling of pulmonary arteries, but also in protection against right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy. In contrast, the male sex hormone testosterone is associated with reduced survival in male animals, where it is associated with increased RV mass, volume, and fibrosis. However, it also has a vasodilatory effect on pulmonary arteries. Furthermore, patients of both sexes show varying degrees of response to current therapies for PAH. As such, there are many gaps and contradictions regarding PAH development, progression, and therapeutic interventions in male versus female patients. Many of these questions remain unanswered, which may be due in part to lack of effective experimental models that can consistently reproduce PAH pulmonary microenvironments in their sex-specific forms. This review article summarizes the roles of estrogens and related sex hormones, immunological and genetical differences, and the benefits and limitations of existing experimental tools to fill in gaps in our understanding of the sex-based variation in PAH development and progression. Finally, we highlight the potential of a new tissue chip-based model mimicking PAH-afflicted male and female pulmonary arteries to study the sex-based differences in PAH and to develop personalized therapies based on patient sex and responsiveness to existing and new drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1025-L1037
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • PAH
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Sex disparity
  • Sex hormone
  • Tissue chips


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