Cycle-dependent sex differences in expression of membrane proteins involved in cerebrospinal fluid secretion at rat choroid plexus

Ida Marchen Egerod Israelsen, Christina Kamp-Jensen, Connar Stanley James Westgate, Bjarne Styrishave, Rigmor H Jensen, Sajedeh Eftekhari*

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: Female sex is a known risk factor of brain disorders with raised intracranial pressure (ICP) and sex hormones have been suggested to alter cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics, thus impairing ICP regulation in CSF disorders such as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). The choroid plexus (CP) is the tissue producing CSF and it has been hypothesized that altered hormonal composition could affect the activity of transporters involved in CSF secretion, thus affecting ICP. Therefore, we aimed to investigate if expression of various transporters involved in CSF secretion at CP were different between males and females and between females in different estrous cycle states. Steroid levels in serum was also investigated.

METHODS: Female and male rats were used to determine sex-differences in the genes encoding for the transporters Aqp1 and 4, NKCC1, NBCe2, NCBE; carbonic anhydrase enzymes II and III (CA), subunits of the Na+/K+-ATPase including Atp1a1, Atp1b1 and Fxyd1 at CP. The estrous cycle stage metestrus (MET) and estrous (ES) were determined before euthanasia. Serum and CP were collected and subjected to RT-qPCR analysis and western blots. Serum was used to measure steroid levels using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).

RESULTS: Significant differences in gene expression and steroid levels between males and ES females were found, while no differences were found between male and MET females. During ES, expression of Aqp1 was lower (p < 0.01) and NKCC1 was higher in females compared to males. CAII was lower while CAIII was higher in ES females (p < 0.0001). Gene expression of Atp1a1 was lower in ES compared to male (p = 0.0008). Several of these choroidal genes were also significantly different in MET compared to females in ES. Differences in gene expression during the estrus cycle were correlated to serum level of steroid hormones. Protein expression of AQP1 (p = 0.008) and CAII (p = 0.035) was reduced in ES females compared to males.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates for the first time that expression at CP is sex-dependent and markedly affected by the estrous cycle in female rats. Further, expression was related to hormone levels in serum. This opens a completely new avenue for steroid regulation of the expression of CSF transporters and the close link to the understanding of CSF disorders such as IIH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023


  • Rats
  • Female
  • Male
  • Animals
  • Choroid Plexus/metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins/metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Steroids/metabolism
  • Choroid plexus
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hormones
  • Sex-differences
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • Transporters
  • Estrous cycle


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