Gender-specific effects of dexamethasone treatment on rat diaphragm structure and function

D. J. Prezant, M. L. Karwa, B. Richner, D. Maggiore, E. I. Gentry, J. Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The effects of long-term dexamethasone treatment on diaphragm muscle were studied in female and male rats. Compared with pair-fed control animals, dexamethasone treatment did not significantly affect estrous cycling or peak serum estradiol levels; however, testosterone levels were significantly increased in females and decreased in males. Dexamethasone significantly reduced body and costal diaphragm weights, but to a lesser extent in females than in males. Reductions in diaphragm weight were proportional to reductions in body weight. In females and males, dexamethasone treatment significantly decreased diaphragm fiber (types I and II) cross-sectional area and the relative expression of myosin heavy chain isoform 2B. With the exception of type I fiber atrophy, these changes occurred to a lesser extent in females. Dexamethasone did not significantly affect specific forces. Dexamethasone significantly increased twitch one-half relaxation time and fatigue resistance indexes in males but not in females. In conclusion, the effects of long-term dexamethasone treatment were gender specific, with significantly fewer effects in females, and changes in serum testosterone levels were associated with these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-133
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • gender differences
  • respiratory muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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