Sex Differences in Behavior and Molecular Pathology in the 5XFAD Model

Annesha Sil, Arina Erfani, Nicola Lamb, Rachel Copland, Bettina Platt* (Corresponding Author), Gernot Riedel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is greater in women compared to men, but the reasons for this remain unknown. This sex difference has been widely neglected in experimental studies using transgenic mouse models of AD. Objective: Here, we studied behavior and molecular pathology of 5-month-old 5XFAD mice, which express mutated human amyloid precursor protein and presenilin-1 on a C57BL/6J background, versus their wild-type littermate controls, to compare both sex- and genotype-dependent differences. Methods: A novel behavioral paradigm was utilized (OF-NO-SI), comprising activity measures (Open Field, OF) arena, followed by Novel Object exploration (NO) and Social Interaction (SI) of a sex-matched conspecific. Each segment consisted of two repeated trials to assess between-trial habituation. Subsequently, brain pathology (amyloid load, stress response and inflammation markers, synaptic integrity, trophic support) was assessed using qPCR and western blotting. Results: Female 5XFAD mice had higher levels of human APP and amyloid-β and heightened inflammation versus males. These markers correlated with hyperactivity observed in both sexes, yet only female 5XFAD mice presented with subtle deficits in object and social exploration. Male animals had higher expression of stress markers and neurotrophic factors irrespective of genotype, this correlated with cognitive performance. Conclusion: The impact of sex on AD-relevant phenotypes is in line with human data and emphasizes the necessity of appropriate study design and reporting. Differential molecular profiles observed in male versus female mice offer insights into possible protective mechanisms, and hence treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-774
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Early online date30 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022


  • beta-amyloid
  • cognition
  • activity
  • social
  • male
  • female
  • ER stress
  • inflammation
  • trophic factors
  • amyloid-β
  • Activity


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