Sex differences in Alzheimer disease ‒ the gateway to precision medicine: Article in "Nature Reviews Neurology"

Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by wide heterogeneity in cognit­ive and behavioural syndromes, risk factors and patho­physio­logical mechanisms. Addressing this phenotypic variation will be crucial for the development of precise and effective therapeutics in AD.

Sex-related differences in neural anatomy and function are starting to emerge, and sex might constitute an important factor for AD patient stratification and personalized treatment. Although the effects of sex on AD epidemiology are currently the subject of intense investigation, the notion of sex-specific clinicopathological AD phenotypes is largely unexplored. In this Review, we critically discuss the evidence for sex-related differences in AD symptomatology, progression, biomarkers, risk factor profiles and treatment. The cumulative evidence reviewed indicates sex-specific patterns of disease manifestation as well as sex differences in the rates of cognitive decline and brain atrophy, suggesting that sex is a crucial variable in disease heterogeneity. We discuss critical challenges and knowledge gaps in our current understanding. Elucidating sex differences in disease phenotypes will be instrumental in the development of a ‘precision medicine’ approach in AD, encompassing individual, multimodal, biomarker-driven and sex-sensitive strategies for prevention, detection, drug development and treatment.

 

The full article, published as https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-018-0032-9, was written by Maria Teresa Ferretti, Maria Florencia Iulita, Enrica Cavedo, Patrizia Andrea Chiesa, Annemarie Schumacher Dimech, Antonella Santuccione Chadha, Francesca Baracchi, Hélène Girouard, Sabina Misoch, Ezio Giacobini, Herman Depypere & Harald Hampel for the Women’s Brain Project and the Alzheimer Precision Medicine Initiative.

Benedikt Hochstrasser

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