ESPE Abstracts (2016) 86 WG1.2

The Brain as a Target for Sex Steroids: Recent Trends in Endocrine Neuroimaging

Sven Mueller


Ghent, Belgium


Background: Sex hormones organize brain structure and function, particularly early in life. Endocrine neuroimaging offers the opportunity to assess the impact of sex hormones but also genetic contributions on structural neuroanatomy and neurocognitive-affective function in disorders of sexual development (DSD). This may be particularly relevant from a psychopathological perspective of how such neural changes contribute to mood and anxiety disorders frequently observed in DSD.

Objective and hypotheses: To review recent developments in pediatric endocrine neuroimaging, particularly DSD.

Method: Drawing from examples of different neuroimaging approaches such as structural and functional MRI and DTI in DSD, this talk will aim to provide a brief overview of the emerging field of pediatric endocrine neuroimaging. Moreover, findings from a recent treatment study on baseline neural synchrony (resting-state MRI) will be presented.

Results: The reviewed studies indicate functional and structural changes in medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex in DSD that can be linked to altered cognitive-affective processing. The resting-state study indicates some plasticity and sensitivity to sex steroids, even in adulthood, and a potential intermediate step between brain structural and functional changes with sex steroid exposure.

Conclusion: Pediatric endocrine imaging offers exciting new avenues to understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying DSD but more collaborative efforts with increased samples and replications are needed.

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