Sex differences in the relationship between conduct disorder and cortical structure in adolescents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • Areti Smaragdi
  • Harriet Cornwell
  • Nicola Toschi
  • Roberta Riccelli
  • Karen Gonzalez-madruga
  • Amy Wells
  • Roberta Clanton
  • Rosalind Baker
  • Nayra Martin-key
  • Ignazio Puzzo
  • Molly Batchelor
  • Justina Sidlauskaite
  • Anka Bernhard
  • Anne Martinelli
  • Gregor Kohls
  • Kerstin Konrad
  • Sarah Baumann
  • Nora Raschle
  • Christina Stadler
  • Christine Freitag
  • Edmund J.s. Sonuga-barke
  • Graeme Fairchild

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Objective
Previous studies have reported reduced cortical thickness and surface area and altered gyrification in frontal and temporal regions in adolescents with conduct disorder (CD). While there is evidence that the clinical phenotype of CD differs between males and females, no studies have examined whether such sex differences extend to cortical and subcortical structure.

Method
As part of a European multisite study (FemNAT-CD), structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were collected from 48 females and 48 males with CD and 104 sex-, age-, and pubertal-status matched controls (14-18 years). Data were analyzed using surface-based morphometry, testing for effects of sex, diagnosis, and sex-by-diagnosis interactions, while controlling for age, IQ, scan site, and total gray matter volume.

Results
CD was associated with cortical thinning and higher gyrification in ventromedial prefrontal cortex in both sexes. Males with CD showed lower, and females with CD showed higher, supramarginal gyrus cortical thickness compared with controls. Relative to controls, males with CD showed higher gyrification and surface area in superior frontal gyrus, whereas the opposite pattern was seen in females. There were no effects of diagnosis or sex-by-diagnosis interactions on subcortical volumes. Results are discussed with regard to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, and substance abuse comorbidity, medication use, handedness, and CD age of onset.

Conclusion
We found both similarities and differences between males and females in CD–cortical structure associations. This initial evidence that the pathophysiological basis of CD may be partly sex-specific highlights the need to consider sex in future neuroimaging studies and suggests that males and females may require different treatments.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-712
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume56
Issue number8
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • conduct disorder , antisocial behavior , sex differences , brain structure , surface-based morphometry

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