The underrepresentation of female mice in neuroscience and biomedical research is based on the assumption that females are intrinsically more variable than males and must be tested at each of four stages of the estrous cycle to generate reliable data. Neither belief is empirically based. In a meta-analysis of 293 articles, behavioral, morphological, physiological, and molecular traits were monitored in male mice and females tested without regard to estrous cycle stage; variability was not significantly greater in females than males for any endpoint and was substantially greater in males for several traits. Group housing of mice increased variability in both males and females by 37%. Utilization of female mice in neuroscience research does not require monitoring of the estrous cycle. The prevalence of sex differences at all levels of biological organization, and limitations in generalizing findings obtained with males to females, argue for the routine inclusion of female rodents in most research protocols.
Keywords: Females; Males; Mice; Sex bias; Sex differences.
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