Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Environmental and Occupational Health

Major Professor

Ira S. Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Raymond Harbison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Perman, Ph.D.


Autoimmune, Interleukins, Reactive Oxygen Species, Acute Phase Reaction, Cytokines


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not gender differences may be present in the expression of a number of urinary proteins which may serve as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. Males and females have different patterns of illness and different life spans, suggesting basic biological traits exert significant control on the incidence of rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, atherosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, myocardial contraction band formation, autoimmune disorders and general inflammatory diseases. Men are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease; however women, particularly elderly women, have higher fatality rates due to heart failure. Renal diseases progress far more quickly in men, possibly due to testosterone. Men also have higher kidney bulk related to androgen expression. Gender disparity may be most obvious in autoimmune disorders; of the estimated 8.5 million people diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, approximately 80% are women. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common form of hypothyroidism, is up to 10 times more common in women. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease characterized by acute and chronic inflammation, is 9 times more common in women. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1.3 million people in the United States, is four times more common in women. Diabetes mellitus (DM), affecting more than 17 million people – the majority of which are women, is linked to microvascular and macrovascular diseases such as kidney failure, strokes and atherosclerosis. These conditions are linked to physiological changes that may alter the expression of certain biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly clear that the role of diet, smoking, and other lifestyle choices clearly influence the etiology and pathophysiology of these diseases. The use of drugs, both licit and illicit, has been clearly linked to many of these diseases. Illicit substances, particularly cocaine, have been demonstrated to produce pathophysiological changes to many systems in the body which can greatly influence the progression of existing and drug-induced disease states leading to systemic damage. A relationship between the expression of markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, cardiac damage, or other systemic injury, gender and cocaine use has not been clearly established.

Urine is an important medium for assessment of general health status. It has classically been used to monitor disease states; glucosuria as an indicator of diabetes and renal dysfunction, microorganisms signifying urinary tract or bladder infection, and biomarkers such as human chorionic gonadotropin to confirm pregnancy. Recently urine has been used to assess biomarker expression and disease states. Urine is an ideal clinical tool for toxicological screens; it is readily accessible, non invasive and typically supplied in sufficient quantity to accommodate multiple tests. In this study, urine specimens were collected and analyzed for creatinine, cocaine, total protein, aldosterone, c-reactive protein (hsCRP), myeloperoxidase (MPO), microalbumin (MAB), neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), heat shock protein 90α (hsp90α), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), myoglobin, pro atrial natriuretic peptide (proANP) and interleukins 1α, 1 β , and 6 using ELISA and colorimetric assays.

Urine specimens that tested negative for all illicit substances in the standard National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 10 panel showed differences in a number of these biomarkers which strongly suggested significant differences between males and females for aldosterone, IL1α and IL1β. In addition, significance is suggested for MPO and CRP. Although sex specific differences in serum expression have been noted for some of the markers in both animal and human models, this has not been previously demonstrated in human urine. This may have implications for what is typically referred to as ‘normal’ values. Gender specific differences were not apparent in urine specimens that tested positive for cocaine. Also, in males only, the levels of myoglobin and aldosterone significantly increased.