Plasma Testosterone Levels and Atherosclerotic Plaque Gene Expression in Men With Advanced Atherosclerosis

Floor Groepenhoff, Ernest Diez Benavente, Arjan Boltjes, Nathalie Timmerman, Farahnaz Waissi, Robin J G Hartman, N C Onland-Moret, Gerard Pasterkamp, Hester Den Ruijter

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftArtikelpeer review


Aims: Low plasma testosterone levels have been shown to predict worse outcome in men with severe atherosclerotic disease. We hypothesized that a low plasma testosterone level affects disease risk through changes in gene expression in atherosclerotic plaques. Therefore, we studied plasma testosterone levels in relation to gene expression levels in atherosclerotic plaque tissue of men with advanced atherosclerotic disease. Methods: Plasma testosterone levels were measured in 203 men undergoing carotid endarterectomy. The corresponding atherosclerotic plaque tissue was used for RNA sequencing. First, we assessed how often the androgen receptor gene was expressed in the plaque. Second, correlations between plasma testosterone levels and pre-selected testosterone-sensitive genes were assessed. Finally, differences within the RNA expression profile of the plaque as a whole, characterized into gene regulatory networks and at individual gene level were assessed in relation to testosterone levels. Results: Testosterone plasma levels were low with a median of 11.6 nmol/L (IQR: 8.6-13.8). RNA-seq of the plaque resulted in reliable expression data for 18,850 genes to be analyzed. Within the RNA seq data, the androgen-receptor gene was expressed in 189 out of 203 (93%) atherosclerotic plaques of men undergoing carotid endarterectomy. The androgen receptor gene expression was not associated with testosterone plasma levels. There were no significant differences in gene expression of atherosclerotic plaques between different endogenous testosterone levels. This remained true for known testosterone-sensitive genes, the complete transcriptomic profile, male-specific gene co-expression modules as well as for individual genes. Conclusion: In men with severe atherosclerotic disease the androgen receptor is highly expressed in plaque tissue. However, plasma testosterone levels were neither associated with pre-selected testosterone sensitive genes, gene expression profiles nor gene regulatory networks in late-stage atherosclerotic plaques. The effect of testosterone on gene expression of the late-stage atherosclerotic plaque appears limited, suggesting that alternate mechanisms explain its effect on clinical outcomes.

Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)693351
TijdschriftFrontiers in cardiovascular medicine
StatusGepubliceerd - 14 jun. 2021


Duik in de onderzoeksthema's van 'Plasma Testosterone Levels and Atherosclerotic Plaque Gene Expression in Men With Advanced Atherosclerosis'. Samen vormen ze een unieke vingerafdruk.

Citeer dit