Sex differences of gray matter morphology in cortico-limbic-striatal neural system in major depressive disorder

Lingtao Kong, Kaiyuan Chen, Fay Womer, Wenyan Jiang, Xingguang Luo, Naomi Driesen, Jie Liu, Hilary Blumberg, Yanqing Tang, Ke Xu, Fei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Sex differences are observed in both epidemiological and clinical aspects of major depressive disorder (MDD). The cortico-limbic-striatal neural system, including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and striatum, have shown sexually dimorphic morphological features and have been implicated in the dysfunctional regulation of mood and emotion in MDD. In this study, we utilized a whole-brain, voxel-based approach to examine sex differences in the regional distribution of gray matter (GM) morphological abnormalities in medication-naïve participants with MDD. Participants included 29 medication-naïve individuals with MDD (16 females and 13 males) and 33 healthy controls (HC) (17 females and 16 males). Gray matter morphology of the cortico-limbic-striatal neural system was examined using voxel-based morphometry analyzes of high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging scans. The main effect of diagnosis and interaction effect of diagnosis by sex on GM morphology were statistically significant (. p < 0.05, corrected) in the left ventral prefrontal cortex, right amygdala, right hippocampus and bilateral caudate when comparing the MDD and HC groups. Posthoc analyzes showed that females with MDD had significant GM decreases in limbic regions (. p < 0.05, corrected), compared to female HC; while males with MDD demonstrated significant GM reduction in striatal regions, (. p < 0.05, corrected), compared to HC males. The observed sex-related patterns of abnormalities within the cortico-limbic-strial neural system, such as predominant prefrontal-limbic abnormalities in MDD females vs. predominant prefrontal-striatal abnormalities in MDD males, suggest differences in neural circuitry that may mediate sex differences in the clinical presentation of MDD and potential targets for sex-differentiated treatment of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-739
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Amygdala
  • Caudate
  • Hippocampus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Voxel-based morphometry


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences of gray matter morphology in cortico-limbic-striatal neural system in major depressive disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this