Gender Disparities

CVD Biomarkers Differ Significantly Between Men and Women

Men and women have widespread differences in circulating cardiovascular disease (CVD) protein biomarkers, according to new findings from the Framingham Heart Study. In fact, of the 71 biomarkers that the researchers measured, 61 differed significantly between men and women.

To analyze the biological pathways that contribute to known gender differences in CVD, the researchers assessed for the 71 circulating biomarkers in 7184 participants in the Framingham Heart Study. In all, 54% of the participants were women, and the mean age was 49 years.


Acute Pericarditis

Meredith Duncan on CVD Risk After Smoking Cessation

Adipokines and inflammatory markers—such as leptin and C-reactive protein—are examples of the 37 biomarkers that were higher among women. Fibrosis and platelet markers—such as matrix metalloproteinase-8 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1—are examples of the 24 biomarkers that were higher among men.

The gender differences in biomarker profiles were most pronounced between premenopausal women vs men, with attenuated sex differences among postmenopausal women not taking hormone replacement therapy.

Further, gender modified the association of specific biomarkers with incident CVD, including CD14 and apolipoprotein B.

“In a predominantly Caucasian population, the authors identified widespread sex differences in circulating biomarkers that reflect distinct pathways implicated in CVD, including inflammation, adiposity, fibrosis, and platelet homeostasis,” the researchers concluded. “Menopause and hormone status accounted for some, but not all, of the observed sex differences. Further investigation into factors underlying sex-based differences may provide mechanistic insight into CVD development.”

—Colleen Murphy


Lau ES, Paniagua SM, Sawalla Guseh J, et al. Sex differences in circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019;74(12). doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2019.06.077.