Nunamaker, E. A., Turner, P. V. 2023. Unmasking the adverse impacts of sex bias on science and research animal welfare. Animals 13(17), 2792.

Sex bias in biomedical and natural science research has been prevalent for decades. In many cases, the female estrous cycle was thought to be too complex an issue to model for, and it was thought to be simpler to only use males in studies. At times, particularly when studying efficacy and safety of new therapeutics, this sex bias has resulted in over- and under-medication with associated deleterious side effects in women. Many sex differences have been recognized that are unrelated to hormonal variation occurring during the estrous cycle. Sex bias also creates animal welfare challenges related to animal over-production and wastage, insufficient consideration of welfare (and scientific) impact related to differential housing of male vs female animals within research facilities, and a lack of understanding regarding differential requirements for pain recognition and alleviation in male versus female animals. Although many funding and government agencies require both sexes to be studied in biomedical research, many disparities remain in practice. This requires further enforcement of expectations by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee when reviewing protocols, research groups when writing grants, planning studies, and conducting research, and scientific journals and reviewers to ensure that sex bias policies are enforced.

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