Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Sex still matters

has the prevalence of male-only studies of drug effects on rodent behaviour changed during the past decade?

Hughes, Robert N.

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000410

During the past 10 years, for a number of biomedical disciplines, including behavioural pharmacology, there have been appeals to include both sexes in animal studies of processes that are not sex specific. In 2007, a survey of experimental studies of drug or other chemical effects on rodent behaviour, published in five prominent journals over 20 months (February 2005 to September 2006, inclusive), revealed that 85% of these conducted with rats and 78% of these conducted with mice involved males only. This was in spite of the evidence of sex differences in responsiveness to an increasing number of compounds. To see if the situation has improved, the survey was repeated with the same journals for a comparable period namely, February 2016 to September 2017 (inclusive). Even though there have been repeated appeals for biomedical research that is not sex specific to involve both sexes, it was apparent that little has changed since 2005–2006, as 82% of rat and 75% of mouse studies were again conducted with males only. However, there was an increase in studies with mice, which may be owing to a greater interest in genetic factors. The male-only situation could be rectified by appropriate funding agencies and journals that publish behavioural pharmacological research insisting that both sexes must be included in research that is not sex specific along with valid scientific justification for single-sex studies, as now typifies some other disciplines.

Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Correspondence to Robert N. Hughes, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand E-mail:

Received February 1, 2018

Accepted April 17, 2018

Copyright © 2019 YEAR Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.