The metabolic syndrome (MS) has become the new epidemic of this century. Although its associated pathologies may vary, the most common are hypertension, central obesity, dyslipidemia, low High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), high Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL), and type-2 diabetes. Several others can be present, such as hypertriglyceridemia, cardiopathies, atherosclerosis, altered levels of sex hormones, hypogonadism in men and nephropathy. Several factors such as gender, age, race, lifestyle and diet may contribute to modify its prevalence: men develop cardiovascular diseases at an earlier age than pre-menopausal women, who seem to be protected by the antioxidant properties of estrogens. The present review offers information, mostly from 2008 to the present, as well as our own work on a rat model of MS, which was developed by the administration of sucrose in drinking water. Sex steroid hormones play an important role in the appearance and development of the MS and of cardiovascular diseases. Variations in the levels of sex hormones, whether normal or pathological, may have significant influence in the onset of several diseases, metabolic syndrome components included, as well as in the behavior of tissues and organs. These are just some of the non-reproductive actions of sex hormones.
Keywords: Cardiovascular system, metabolic syndrome, non-reproductive actions, sex hormones, testosterone, estrogens,, gender differences, vascular reactivity, inflammation, sucrose feeding
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