In experimental dilated cardiomyopathy heart failure and survival are adversely affected by a lack of sexual interactions

Ranjana Tripathi, Ryan D. Sullivan, Tai Hwang M. Fan, Radhika M. Mehta, Inna P. Gladysheva, Guy L. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Nearly one in three people in the U.S. will develop heart failure (HF), characterized by fluid retention (edema) in the lungs and elsewhere. This leads to difficult breathing, deterioration of physical capacity, restriction of normal activities and death. There is little data about the safety and effects of sexual interactions in patients with HF. We tested whether a lack of sexual interactions affected pathophysiological outcomes in a pre-clinical mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy that recapitulates the progressive stages of human HF. Male mice were randomly given access to, or deprived from, sexual interactions with female mice, which were confirmed by videography and generation of offspring. Cohousing with access to sexual interactions markedly prolonged survival, while cohousing without access to sexual activity did not. Sexual interactions improved systolic function, reduced HF-associated edema, altered transcription of heart contractile protein genes and decreased plasma testosterone levels. To determine whether testosterone levels contributed to survival, testosterone levels were experimentally reduced. Reduction of testosterone levels significantly prolonged survival. Taken together, in mice with dilated cardiomyopathy, sexual activity altered cardiac contractile gene transcription, improved systolic function, reduced edema and prolonged survival which may be in part due to lower testosterone levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5450
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Contractile function
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Edema
  • Heart failure
  • Lifespan
  • Pleural effusion
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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