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Sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women not linked to heart disease

August 02, 2017

In an article published in the April 2008 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers found no increased prevalence or incidence of cardiovascular disease among postmenopausal sexually active female subjects who were dissatisfied with their sexual activity. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) and collaborators nationwide examined data from over 93,000 women in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Participants were sexually active postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years, recruited at 40 clinical centers throughout the United States and followed for 8-12 years. Based on responses to a baseline survey, subjects were classified as sexually satisfied or dissatisfied. Researchers identified cardiovascular disease as a self-reported history of acute myocardial infarction, stroke, or coronary revascularization procedure. Related cardiovascular problems, including congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease and angina were also examined. According to researchers, there was a modest association between being dissatisfied with sexual activity and having peripheral arterial disease, and angina was decreased among those dissatisfied with sexual activity. However, there was no association between sexual dissatisfaction and the presence of any other form of cardiovascular disease including heart attack or stroke. Writing in the article, Jennifer McCall-Hosenfeld, MD, MSc, a fellow in the Department of General Internal Medicine at BMC and Women's Health at BUSM, states, ???In men, erectile dysfunction is a manifestation of cardiovascular disease, and can predict the development of adverse cardiovascular outcomes such as heart attack. In our study, we used decreased sexual satisfaction as a rough proxy measure for sexual dysfunction, and controlled for lifestyle issues and other factors that might impact sexual satisfaction. We did not find that sexual satisfaction predicted cardiovascular disease in the future.???

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In PDGF receptor signalling, receptors on the surface of the MSCs receive messages in the form of molecules that are involved in directing human growth and development ?? ???growth factors'. It has been found that there is a complex messaging system that relays and coordinates the signals from certain growth factors to the MSCs, which encourage their recruitment to new blood vessels. This involves cooperation between two types of receptor called ???PDGF receptor' and ???neuropilin-1' that respond to growth factors called PDGF and VEGF-A arriving at the cell surface, as well as sensing close proximity to other cells that make up the blood vessel.

As well as offering insights into the use of ASCs for tissue repair therapies, a better knowledge of how blood vessels develop is crucial to understanding and treating a huge range of diseases such as cancer, diabetic retinopathy and cardiovascular disease.

Professor Kielty said: ???What we have shown is that adult stem cells respond in particular ways to some of the chemical signals in the body. The next stage will be to understand how this messaging system regulates relocation of the MSCs and instructs them to become blood vessel cells. After that, we can look at applying our understanding to develop stem-cell derived therapies for tissue repair.???

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