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Sex-Specific Differences in Toxicity Following Systemic Paclitaxel Treatment and Localized Cardiac Radiotherapy.


The impact of sex in the development of long-term toxicities affecting the quality of life of cancer survivors has not been investigated experimentally. To address this issue, a series of neurologic and cardiologic endpoints were used to investigate sex-based differences triggered by paclitaxel treatment and radiotherapy exposure. Male and female wild-type (WT) mice were treated with paclitaxel (150 and 300 mg/kg) administered weekly over 6 weeks or exposed to 19 Gy cardiac irradiation. Cohorts were analyzed for behavioral and neurobiologic endpoints to assess systemic toxicity of paclitaxel or cardiovascular endpoints to assess radiotherapy toxicity. Interestingly, female WT mice exhibited enhanced tolerance compared to male WT mice regardless of the treatment regimen. To provide insight into the possible sex-specific protective mechanisms, rhoB-deficient animals and elderly mice (22 months) were used with a focus on the possible contribution of sex hormones, including estrogen. In females, RhoB deficiency and advanced age had no impact on neurocognitive impairment induced by paclitaxel but enhanced cardiac sensitivity to radiotherapy. Conversely, rhoB-deficiency protected males from radiation toxicity. In sum, RhoB was identified as a molecular determinant driving estrogen-dependent cardioprotection in female mice, whereas neuroprotection was not sex hormone dependent. To our knowledge, this study revealed for the first time sex- and organ-specific responses to paclitaxel and radiotherapy.

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