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Women’s Brain Project reports on its recent symposium on sex and gender differences in neurodegenerative diseases at the AAT-AD/PD in Torino

Saturday 17 March 2018

Over 1,000 scientists convened in Torino (Turin), Italy, to join the AAT-AD/PD meeting and discuss future perspectives for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exceptionally, the meeting also featured a symposium on sex-differences in neurodegenerative diseases, prepared in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Women’s Brain Project (WBP).

In the opening talk, Dr Maria Teresa Ferretti (University of Zurich), co-founder of the WBP, offered an overview of known sex-differences in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) symptoms, progression, biomarkers, risk factors and response to treatment. According to the current literature, women might be initially protected at pre-clinical stages of Alzheimer’s pathology, only to decline faster (in terms of cognition and brain atrophy) than men after diagnosis.

Prof. Emiliano Albanese (University of Geneva) reported the preliminary results of a meta-analysis on sex-differences in Alzheimer’s risk: While, overall, women appeared to have a slightly higher risk than men, large variability existed between studies, possibly due to geographical and historical reasons.

Dr Andrei Vlassenko (Washington University School of Medicine) found that, on average, the “metabolic age” of women’s brains is 3-4 years younger than men’s brains (as measured with a novel imaging tool combining brain glucose uptake and oxygen utilisation). These results possibly underlie female resilience to Alzheimer’s at early stages of the disease.

“Sex and gender-sensitive personalised approaches for prevention and treatment already exists in cardiovascular medicine; we may have a lot to learn from this field” concluded Dr Antonella Santuccione-Chadha, member of the WBP, who chaired the session.

The WBP, composed by scientists, artists, doctors, caregivers, patients and policymakers, advocate for women’s brain and mental health. The main goal of the WBP is to promote personalised diagnosis, prevention and treatment of brain and mental diseases, taking into consideration the sex and gender of the individual.

For more info on the WBP please contact: or see