Greater male than female variability in regional brain structure across the lifespan

Lara M Wierenga, Gaelle Doucet, Danai Dima, Ingrid Agartz, Moji Aghajani, Theophilus Akudjedu, Anton Albajes-Eizagirre, Dag Alnaes, Kathryn Alpert, Ole A Andreassen, Alan Anticevic, Philip Asherson, Tobias Banaschewski, Nuria Bargallo, Sarah Baumeister, Ramona Baur-Streubel, Alessandro Bertolino, Aurora Bonvino, Dorret Boomsma, Stefan BorgwardtJosiane Bourque, Anouk den Braber, Daniel Brandeis, Alan Breier, Henry Brodaty, Rachel Brouwer, Geraldo Busatto, Vince Calhoun, Erick Canales-Rodriguez, Dara Cannon, Xavier Caseras, Tiffany Chaim-Avancini, Christopher Ching, Patricia Conrod, Annette Conzelmann, Fabrice Crivello, Christopher Davey, Erin Dickie, Stefan Ehrlich, Dennis van 't Ent, Jean-Paul Fouche, Paola Fuentes-Claramonte, Eco de Geus, Annabella Di Giorgio, David Glahn, Ian Gotlib, Hans Grabe, Oliver Gruber, Patricia Gruner, Raquel Gur, Ruben C Gur, Tiril P Gurholt, Lieuwe de Haan, Beathe Haatveit, Ben Harrison, Sean Hatton, Odile van den Heuvel, Ian Hickie, Sarah Hohmann, Avram N Holmes, Martine Hoogman, Norbert Hosten, Fleur Howells, Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, Chaim Huyser, Neda Jahanshad, Anthony James, Erik Jonsson, John Joska, Marieke Klein, Laura Koenders, Knut Kristian Kolskar, Bernd Kramer, Jonna Kuntsi, Jim Lagopoulos, Luisa Lazaro, Irina Lebedeva, Phil Hyoun Lee, Christine Lochner, Marise Machielsen, Sophie Maingault, Nicholas Martin, Ignacio Martinez-Zalacain, David Mataix-Cols, Bernard Mazoyer, Brenna McDonald, Colm McDonald, Andrew M McIntosh, Katie McMahon, Genevieve McPhilemy, Dennis van der Meer, Jose Menchon, Jilly Naaijen, Lars Nyberg, Yannis Paloyelis, Paul Pauli, Giulio Pergola, Edith Pomarol-Clotet, Maria Portella, Joaquim Radua, Andreas Reif, Genevieve Richard, Joshua Roffman, Pedro Rosa, Matthew Sacchet, Perminder Sachdev, Raymond Salvador, Salvador Sarro, Theodore Satterthwaite, Andrew Saykin, Mauricio Serpa, Kang Sim, Andrew Simmons, Jordan Smoller, Iris Sommer, Carles Soriano-Mas, Dan Stein, Lachlan Strike, Philip Szeszko, Henk Temmingh, Sophia Thomopoulos, Alexander Tomyshev, Julian Trollor, Anne Uhlmann, Ilya Veer, Dick Veltman, Aristotle Voineskos, Henry Volzke, Henrik Walter, Yang Wang, Lei Wang, Bernd J Weber, Wei Wen, John West, Lars T. Westlye, Heather C Whalley, Steven Williams, Katharina Wittfeld, Daniel Wolf, Margaret Wright, Yuliya Yoncheva, Marcus Zanetti, Georg Ziegler, Greig de Zubicaray, Paul Thompson, Eveline A Crone, Sophia Frangou, Christian K. Tamnes

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Abstract

For many traits, males show greater variability than females, with possible implications for understanding sex differences in health and disease. Here, the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Consortium presents the largest-ever mega-analysis of sex differences in variability of brain structure, based on international data spanning nine decades of life. Subcortical volumes, cortical surface area and cortical thickness were assessed in MRI data of 16,683 healthy individuals 1-90 years old (47% females). We observed patterns of greater male than female between-subject variance for all brain measures. This pattern was stable across the lifespan for 50% of the subcortical structures, 70% of the regional area measures, and nearly all regions for thickness. Our findings that these sex differences are present in childhood implicate early life genetic or gene-environment interaction mechanisms. The findings highlight the importance of individual differences within the sexes, that may underpin sex-specific vulnerability to disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2020.02.17.952010
JournalbioRxiv
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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Wierenga, L. M., Doucet, G., Dima, D., Agartz, I., Aghajani, M., Akudjedu, T., ... Tamnes, C. K. (2020). Greater male than female variability in regional brain structure across the lifespan. bioRxiv, 2020.02.17.952010. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.17.952010