Sexual Dimorphism in the 3xTg-AD Mouse Model and Its Impact on Pre-Clinical Research

Jessica L. Dennison, Natalie R. Ricciardi, Ines Lohse, Claude Henry Volmar, Claes Wahlestedt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Female sex is a leading risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). Sexual dimorphism in AD is gaining attention as clinical data show that women are not only more likely to develop AD but also to experience worse pathology and faster cognitive decline. Pre-clinical AD research in animal models often neglects to address sexual dimorphism in evaluation of behavioral or molecular characteristics and outcomes. This can compromise its translation to a clinical setting. The triple-transgenic AD mouse model (3xTg-AD) is a commonly used but unique AD model because it exhibits both amyloid and tau pathology, essential features of the human AD phenotype. Mounting evidence has revealed important sexually dimorphic characteristics of this animal model that have yet to be reviewed and thus, are often overlooked in studies using the 3xTg-AD model. In this review we conduct a thorough analysis of reports of sexual dimorphism in the 3xTg-AD model including findings of molecular, behavioral, and longevity-related sex differences in original research articles through August 2020. Importantly, we find results to be inconsistent, and that strain source and differing methodologies are major contributors to lack of consensus regarding traits of each sex. We first touch on the nature of sexual dimorphism in clinical AD, followed by a brief summary of sexual dimorphism in other major AD murine models before discussing the 3xTg-AD model in depth. We conclude by offering four suggestions to help unify pre-clinical mouse model AD research inspired by the NIH expectations for considering sex as a biological variable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • 3xTg-AD
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • mouse models
  • sex as a biological variable (SABV)
  • sexual dimorphism
  • triple transgenic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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