BackgroundWe aimed to identify sex differences in the network properties and to recognize the geometric alteration effects of long-term swim training in a rat model of exercise-induced left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy.MethodsThirty-eight Wistar rats were divided into four groups: male sedentary, female sedentary, male exercised and female exercised. After training sessions, LV morphology and function were checked by echocardiography. The geometry of the left coronary artery system was analysed on pressure-perfused, microsurgically prepared resistance artery networks using in situ video microscopy. All segments over > 80 μm in diameter were studied using divided 50-μm-long cylindrical ring units of the networks. Oxidative-nitrative (O-N) stress markers, adenosine A2A and estrogen receptor (ER) were investigated by immunohistochemistry.ResultsThe LV mass index, ejection fraction and fractional shortening significantly increased in exercised animals. We found substantial sex differences in the coronary network in the control groups and in the swim-trained animals. Ring frequency spectra were significantly different between male and female animals in both the sedentary and trained groups. The thickness of the wall was higher in males as a result of training. There were elevations in the populations of 200- and 400-μm vessel units in males; the thinner ones developed farther and the thicker ones closer to the orifice. In females, a new population of 200- to 250-μm vessels appeared unusually close to the orifice.ConclusionsPhysical activity and LV hypertrophy were accompanied by a remodelling of coronary resistance artery network geometry that was different in both sexes.