The Trouble With Sex in Science

Researchers argue for the consideration of hormones and sex chromosomes in preclinical experiments.

Aug 9, 2016
Kerry Grens

PIXABAY, CLIKER-FREE-VECTOR-IMAGESMale animals and male-derived tissues and cells are largely overrepresented in basic science. But in studying mostly male specimens, researchers miss out on an opportunity to understand how hormones and sex chromosomes may impact disease risks and outcomes, according to Deborah Clegg of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and coauthors.

“Researchers are encouraged to critically think of the impact that their experimental design has on the hormonal profile and to accurately analyze the data focusing on the impact of sex, not only of the individual being studied but also of the cell in a dish,” the researchers wrote in Cell Metabolism today (August 9).

Clegg said in a press release that sex considerations go beyond male or female—to, say, whether a woman is postmenopausal or taking birth control pills. “Without addressing all of these variables in your analysis, you’re still not accurately reflecting the impact of hormones and chromosomes in your research.”