Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author's final published version in Basic Research in Cardiology, Volume 118, Issue 1, 2023, Article number 15.

The published version is available at

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit


Calcium transfer into the mitochondrial matrix during sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release is essential to boost energy production in ventricular cardiomyocytes (VCMs) and match increased metabolic demand. Mitochondria from female hearts exhibit lower mito-[Ca2+] and produce less reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared to males, without change in respiration capacity. We hypothesized that in female VCMs, more efficient electron transport chain (ETC) organization into supercomplexes offsets the deficit in mito-Ca2+ accumulation, thereby reducing ROS production and stress-induced intracellular Ca2+ mishandling. Experiments using mitochondria-targeted biosensors confirmed lower mito-ROS and mito-[Ca2+] in female rat VCMs challenged with β-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol compared to males. Biochemical studies revealed decreased mitochondria Ca2+ uniporter expression and increased supercomplex assembly in rat and human female ventricular tissues vs male. Importantly, western blot analysis showed higher expression levels of COX7RP, an estrogen-dependent supercomplex assembly factor in female heart tissues vs males. Furthermore, COX7RP was decreased in hearts from aged and ovariectomized female rats. COX7RP overexpression in male VCMs increased mitochondrial supercomplexes, reduced mito-ROS and spontaneous SR Ca2+ release in response to ISO. Conversely, shRNA-mediated knockdown of COX7RP in female VCMs reduced supercomplexes and increased mito-ROS, promoting intracellular Ca2+ mishandling. Compared to males, mitochondria in female VCMs exhibit higher ETC subunit incorporation into supercomplexes, supporting more efficient electron transport. Such organization coupled to lower levels of mito-[Ca2+] limits mito-ROS under stress conditions and lowers propensity to pro-arrhythmic spontaneous SR Ca2+ release. We conclude that sexual dimorphism in mito-Ca2+ handling and ETC organization may contribute to cardioprotection in healthy premenopausal females.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID