Importance of sex-specific testing shown in anxiety study

Oct 15, 2008

An Australian study has flagged an important truth for the medical research community. Like their human counterparts, male and female mice are not only different, their respective genetic responses can often be the reverse of what you'd expect from pharmacological results. This has important ramifications for laboratory and clinical testing.

Dr Tim Karl, behavioural neuroscientist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, found the opposite of what he expected in female mice when he investigated the anxiety behaviours of males and females in specific mouse models.

His results were reported recently in the European Journal of Neuroscience.

"There's a neurotransmitter in the brain known as NPY, and we know that it buffers behavioural consequences of stress, lowering anxiety levels," explained Karl. "Pharmacological tests show that when you introduce NPY to an animal in a stressful situation, its stress levels decrease."

"Studies in the past have shown that male mice created without NPY are more anxious than normal mice, which is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that female mice without NPY, while still more anxious than normal mice, are less anxious than the males without NPY."

"Knowing that normal female mice respond in a different way to stress than normal male mice, in the same way that women respond differently to stress than men - they are at least twice as prone to anxiety disorders for example - we didn't expect what we found."

"The outcomes tell us that you have to do both genetic studies and pharmacological studies to get the whole picture and see what your gene of interest is really doing."

"You also have to look at males and females because we operate differently. Women show a better response to certain antipsychotics than men, for example."

"Using female mice in research is complicated by the females' oestrus cycle - it impacts on neuro-physiological parameters, including behaviour and perception of stress. For these reasons, and because of the additional time and cost involved in taking such variations into account, people often avoid using females in their research."

"But when a sexual difference has bearing on the physiological response under investigation, it becomes vital to look at males and females, both in animals and in humans."

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan lab says stem cell research falsified (Update 3)

Apr 01, 2014

The finding that a lead researcher falsified data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper is a setback for Japan's efforts to promote its advanced research, but also a symptom of the pressure for breakthroughs ...

Fruit flies with better sex lives live longer

Nov 28, 2013

Sex may in fact be one of the secrets to good health, youth and a longer life – at least for fruit flies – suggests a new University of Michigan study that appears in the journal Science.

Doing it to death: Suicidal sex in 'marsupial mice'

Oct 07, 2013

Imagine if you only had one shot at passing on your genes before you died. It happens more often in the natural world than you might expect: suicidal reproduction – where one or both sexes of a species ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

15 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

17 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0