Influences of gender on the interaction between sympathetic nerve traffic and central adiposity


  • J. Tank
  • K. Heusser
  • A. Diedrich
  • D. Hering
  • F.C. Luft
  • A. Busjahn
  • K. Narkiewicz
  • J. Jordan


  • Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism


  • J Clin Endocrinol Metab 93 (12): 4974-4978


  • Context. Sympathetic activation promotes insulin resistance and arterial hypertension with increasing adiposity. A difference in the relationship between adiposity and sympathetic activity between women and men could contribute to the known gender difference in cardiovascular disease risk. Objective. We tested whether or not muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is correlated differently with waist circumference, waist-hip-ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI) in women and in men. Design and Setting. We pooled data from two microneurography centers (Berlin, Germany; Gdansk, Poland) for a cross sectional study. Participants. We studied 111 normotensive, healthy caucasian subjects (70 males and 41 females). Age ranged between 19 to 62 years and body mass index ranged between 18 to 40 kg/m(2). Intervention. No intervention was applied during the study. Measurements. Supine heart rate, blood pressure, and MSNA were recorded after at least 30 min rest. Results. MSNA in bursts/min was age-dependent in both sexes (r male=0.56, r female=0.34, p<0.01). Controlling for waist and hip circumferences, age-dependence remained highly significant in men (r=0.43) and women (r=0.43). Adjusting for age, in men, waist circumference (r=0.29), WHR (r=0.39) and BMI (r=0.31) were predictive for MSNA and directly correlated (p<0.01) but not in women. Adjusting for BMI, in men, only WHR (r=0.40) remained predictive for MSNA. Conclusion. These data support the hypothesis of a gender difference in the regulation of the sympathetic nervous system, in which MSNA mainly relates to WHR in men but not in women. The phenomenon may contribute to the sexual dimorphism in cardiovascular disease risk.