DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00278.2023 ISSN:

A Review of the Historical Use of Sex as a Biological Variable in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulation

Marnie L. Vanden Noven, Miguel Anselmo, Chowdhury Tasnova Tahsin, Jason Carter, Manda L. Keller-Ross
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology

Despite National Institute of Health (NIH) mandates requiring sex as a biological variable (SABV), female underrepresentation persists in research, driving the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology (Am J Physiol Heart Circ) to publish SABV expectations in 2021. To determine progress within the Am J Physiol Heart Circ, this mini-review evaluated SABV during the first six months of each decade from 1980 to 2020, and 2019 to mitigate pandemic influence. Of the 2,021 articles published, 1,087 articles were included in this review (articles without original research subjects were excluded), of which 72.9% identified subjects. There were consistently fewer female human participants than males, except within 2019 (1980: females n=3, males n=5; 1990: females n=70, males n=199; 2000: females n=305, males n=355; 2010: females n=186, males n=472; 2019: females n=1,695, males n=1,550; 2020: females n=1,157, males n=1,222); and fewer female animals than males (1980: females n=58, males n=1,291; 1990: females n=447, males n=2,628; 2000: females n=590, males n=3,083; 2010: females n=663, males n=4,517; 2019: females n=338, males n=1,340; 2020: females n=1,372, males n=1,973). Only 16 (12.3%) articles including humans discussed SABV from 1980 to 2020. There are persistent SABV disparities within Am J Physiol Heart Circ with some improvements in recent years . It is imperative that organizations such as the American Physiological Society and NIH foster an expectation of SABV as the norm, not the exception.

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