Sex-dependent differences in the regulation of myocardial protein synthesis following long-term ethanol consumption

Thomas C. Vary, Scot R. Kimball, Andrew Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Chronic heavy alcohol consumption alters cardiac structure and function. Controversies remain as to whether hearts from females respond to the chronic ethanol intake in a manner analogous to males. In particular, sex differences in the myocardial response to chronic alcohol consumption remain unresolved at the molecular level. The purpose of the present set of experiments was to determine whether alterations in cardiac structure and protein metabolism show sexual dimorphism following chronic alcohol consumption for 26 wk. In control animals, hearts from female rats showed lowered heart weights and had thinner ventricular walls compared with males. The smaller heart size was associated with a lower protein content that occurred in part from a reduced rate of protein synthesis. Chronic alcohol consumption in males, but not in females, caused a thinning of the ventricular wall and intraventricular septum, as assessed by echocardiography, correlating with the loss of heart mass. The alterations in cardiac size occurred, in part, through a lowering of the protein content secondary to a diminished rate of protein synthesis. The decreased rate of protein synthesis appeared related to a reduced assembly of active eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4G·eIF4E complex secondary to both a diminished phosphorylation of eIF4G and increased formation of inactive 4Ebinding protein (4EBP1)·eIF4E complex. The latter effects occurred as a result of decreased phosphorylation of 4EBP1. None of these ethanol-induced alterations in hearts from males were observed in hearts from females. These data suggest that chronic alcohol-induced impairments in myocardial protein synthesis results, in part, from marked decreases in eIF4E·eIF4G complex formation in males. The failure of female rats consuming ethanol to show structural changes appears related to the inability of ethanol to affect the regulation protein synthesis to the same extent as their male counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R778-R787
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex-dependent differences in the regulation of myocardial protein synthesis following long-term ethanol consumption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this