Although numerous clinical and experimental studies have clearly identified a sexual dimorphism in blood pressure control, the mechanism(s) underlying gender differences in blood pressure remain unclear. Over the past two decades, numerous laboratories have utilized the spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) as an experimental model of essential hypertension to increase our understanding of the mechanisms regulating blood pressure in males and females. Previous work by our group and others have implicated that differential regulation of adrenergic receptors, the renin–angiotensin system, oxidative stress, nitric oxide bioavailability and immune cells contribute to sex differences in blood pressure control in SHR. The purpose of this review is to summarize previous findings to date regarding the mechanisms of blood pressure control in male versus female SHR.
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