To conduct a meta-analysis that investigates sex differences in the prevalence of mutations in the 3 most common genes that cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD)—chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72), progranulin (GRN), or microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT)—in patients clinically diagnosed with these conditions.


MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases were searched (inception to June 30, 2016). Studies of patients with FTD or ALS that reported the number of men and women with and without mutations of interest were selected. Female to male pooled risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each mutation were calculated using random-effects models.


Thirty-two articles reporting 12,784 patients with ALS (including 1,244 C9orf72 mutation carriers) revealed a higher prevalence of female patients with C9orf72-related ALS (RR 1.16, 95% CI 1.04–1.29). Twenty-three articles reporting 5,320 patients with FTD (including 488 C9orf72 mutation carriers) revealed no sex differences in C9orf72-related FTD (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.81–1.12). Thirty-six articles reporting 3,857 patients with FTD (including 369 GRN mutation carriers) revealed a higher prevalence of female patients with GRN-related FTD (RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.09–1.62). Finally, 21 articles reporting 2,377 patients with FTD (including 215 MAPT mutation carriers) revealed no sex difference in MAPT-related FTD (RR 1.21, 95% CI 0.95–1.55).


Higher female prevalence of C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions in ALS and GRN mutations in FTD suggest that sex-related risk factors might moderate C9orf72 and GRN-mediated phenotypic expression.


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