The Modulatory Effects of DMF on Microglia in Aged Mice Are Sex-Specific

Virginia Mela, Aline Sayd Gaban, Eoin O’neill, Sibylle Bechet, Aífe Walsh, Marina A. Lynch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is a striking sex-related difference in the prevalence of many neurodegenerative diseases, highlighting the need to consider whether treatments may exert sex-specific effects. A change in microglial activation state is a common feature of several neurodegenerative diseases and is considered to be a key factor in driving the inflammation that characterizes these conditions. Among the changes that have been described is a switch in microglial metabolism towards glycolysis which is associated with production of inflammatory mediators and reduced function. Marked sex-related differences in microglial number, phenotype and function have been described in late embryonic and early postnatal life in rodents and some reports suggest that sexual dimorphism extends into adulthood and age and, in models of Alzheimer’s disease, the changes are more profound in microglia from female, compared with male, mice. Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is a fumaric acid ester used in the treatment of psoriasis and relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and, while its mechanism of action is unclear, it possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and also impacts on cell metabolism. Here we treated 16–18-month-old female and male mice with DMF for 1 month and assessed its effect on microglia. The evidence indicates that it exerted sex-specific effects on microglial morphology and metabolism, reducing glycolysis only in microglia from female mice. The data suggest that this may result from its ability to inactivate glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH).

Original languageEnglish
Article number729
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Dimethyl fumarate
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolism
  • Microglia
  • Sexual dimorphism


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