A Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents.

TitleA Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSkorska MN, Chavez S, Devenyi GA, Patel R, Thurston LT, Lai M-C, Zucker KJ, Chakravarty MM, Lobaugh NJ, VanderLaan DP
JournalJ Clin Med
Volume10
Issue2
Date Published2021 Jan 18
ISSN2077-0383
Abstract

Gender dysphoria (GD) is characterized by distress due to an incongruence between experienced gender and sex assigned at birth. Sex-differentiated brain regions are hypothesized to reflect the experienced gender in GD and may play a role in sexual orientation development. Magnetic resonance brain images were acquired from 16 GD adolescents assigned female at birth (AFAB) not receiving hormone therapy, 17 cisgender girls, and 14 cisgender boys (ages 12-17 years) to examine three morphological and microstructural gray matter features in 76 brain regions: surface area (SA), cortical thickness (CT), and T1 relaxation time. Sexual orientation was represented by degree of androphilia-gynephilia and sexual attraction strength. Multivariate analyses found that cisgender boys had larger SA than cisgender girls and GD AFAB. Shorter T1, reflecting denser, macromolecule-rich tissue, correlated with older age and stronger gynephilia in cisgender boys and GD AFAB, and with stronger attractions in cisgender boys. Thus, cortical morphometry (mainly SA) was related to sex assigned at birth, but not experienced gender. Effects of experienced gender were found as similarities in correlation patterns in GD AFAB and cisgender boys in age and sexual orientation (mainly T1), indicating the need to consider developmental trajectories and sexual orientation in brain studies of GD.

DOI10.3390/jcm10020345
Alternate JournalJ Clin Med
PubMed ID33477567
PubMed Central IDPMC7831120
Grant ListFRN 142348 / CAPMC / CIHR / Canada
FRN 159578 / CAPMC / CIHR / Canada