Sex Differences in Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Aug;35(3):385-403. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2014.01.002. Epub 2014 Jan 13.

Abstract

Studies have shown differences in specific cognitive ability domains and risk of Alzheimer's disease between the men and women at later age. However it is important to know that sex differences in cognitive function during adulthood may have their basis in both organizational effects, i.e., occurring as early as during the neuronal development period, as well as in activational effects, where the influence of the sex steroids influence brain function in adulthood. Further, the rate of cognitive decline with aging is also different between the sexes. Understanding the biology of sex differences in cognitive function will not only provide insight into Alzheimer's disease prevention, but also is integral to the development of personalized, gender-specific medicine. This review draws on epidemiological, translational, clinical, and basic science studies to assess the impact of sex differences in cognitive function from young to old, and examines the effects of sex hormone treatments on Alzheimer's disease in men and women.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cognition; Gender; Sex difference; Steroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders* / metabolism
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Sex Characteristics

Substances

  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones