Sex differences in the influence of body mass index on anatomical architecture of brain networks.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:The brain has a central role in regulating ingestive behavior in obesity. Analogous to addiction behaviors, an imbalance in the processing of rewarding and salient stimuli results in maladaptive eating behaviors that override homeostatic needs. We performed network analysis based on graph theory to examine the association between body mass index (BMI) and network measures of integrity, information flow and global communication (centrality) in reward, salience and sensorimotor regions and to identify sex-related differences in these parameters. SUBJECTS/METHODS:Structural and diffusion tensor imaging were obtained in a sample of 124 individuals (61 males and 63 females). Graph theory was applied to calculate anatomical network properties (centrality) for regions of the reward, salience and sensorimotor networks. General linear models with linear contrasts were performed to test for BMI and sex-related differences in measures of centrality, while controlling for age. RESULTS:In both males and females, individuals with high BMI (obese and overweight) had greater anatomical centrality (greater connectivity) of reward (putamen) and salience (anterior insula) network regions. Sex differences were observed both in individuals with normal and elevated BMI. In individuals with high BMI, females compared to males showed greater centrality in reward (amygdala, hippocampus and nucleus accumbens) and salience (anterior mid-cingulate cortex) regions, while males compared to females had greater centrality in reward (putamen) and sensorimotor (posterior insula) regions. CONCLUSIONS:In individuals with increased BMI, reward, salience and sensorimotor network regions are susceptible to topological restructuring in a sex-related manner. These findings highlight the influence of these regions on integrative processing of food-related stimuli and increased ingestive behavior in obesity, or in the influence of hedonic ingestion on brain topological restructuring. The observed sex differences emphasize the importance of considering sex differences in obesity pathophysiology.
Project description:Functional neuroimaging studies in obesity have identified alterations in the connectivity within the reward network leading to decreased homeostatic control of ingestive behavior. However, the neural mechanisms underlying sex differences in the prevalence of food addiction in obesity is unknown. The aim of the study was to identify functional connectivity alterations associated with: (1) Food addiction, (2) Sex- differences in food addiction, (3) Ingestive behaviors. 150 participants (females: N?=?103, males: N?=?47; food addiction: N?=?40, no food addiction: N?=?110) with high BMI???25 kg/m<sup>2</sup> underwent functional resting state MRIs. Participants were administered the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), to determine diagnostic criteria for food addiction (YFAS Symptom Count???3 with clinically significant impairment or distress), and completed ingestive behavior questionnaires. Connectivity differences were analyzed using a general linear model in the CONN Toolbox and images were segmented using the Schaefer 400, Harvard-Oxford Subcortical, and Ascending Arousal Network atlases. Significant connectivities and clinical variables were correlated. Statistical significance was corrected for multiple comparisons at q?<?.05. (1) Individuals with food addiction had greater connectivity between brainstem regions and the orbital frontal gyrus compared to individuals with no food addiction. (2) Females with food addiction had greater connectivity in the salience and emotional regulation networks and lowered connectivity between the default mode network and central executive network compared to males with food addiction. (3) Increased connectivity between regions of the reward network was positively associated with scores on the General Food Cravings Questionnaire-Trait, indicative of greater food cravings in individuals with food addiction. Individuals with food addiction showed greater connectivity between regions of the reward network suggesting dysregulation of the dopaminergic pathway. Additionally, greater connectivity in the locus coeruleus could indicate that the maladaptive food behaviors displayed by individuals with food addiction serve as a coping mechanism in response to pathological anxiety and stress. Sex differences in functional connectivity suggest that females with food addiction engage more in emotional overeating and less cognitive control and homeostatic processing compared to males. These mechanistic pathways may have clinical implications for understanding the sex-dependent variability in response to diet interventions.
Project description:Pain is a highly complex and individualized experience with biopsychosocial components. Neuroimaging research has shown evidence of the involvement of the central nervous system in the development and maintenance of chronic pain conditions, including urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome (UCPPS). Furthermore, a history of early adverse life events (EALs) has been shown to adversely impact symptoms throughout childhood and into adulthood. However, to date, the role of EAL's in the central processes of chronic pain have not been adequately investigated. We studied 85 patients (56 females) with UCPPS along with 86 healthy controls (HCs) who had resting-state magnetic resonance imaging scans (59 females), and data on EALs as a part of the Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain (MAPP) Research Network Study. We used graph theory methods in order to investigate the impact of EALs on measures of centrality, which characterize information flow, communication, influence, and integration in a priori selected regions of interest. Patients with UCPPS exhibited lower centrality in the right anterior insula compared to HCs, a key node in the salience network. Males with UCPPS exhibited lower centrality in the right anterior insula compared the HC males. Females with UCPPS exhibited greater centrality in the right caudate nucleus and left angular gyrus compared to HC females. Males with UCPPS exhibited lower centrality in the left posterior cingulate, angular gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and superior temporal sulcus, but greater centrality in the precuneus and anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) compared to females with UCPPS. Higher reports of EALs was associated with greater centrality in the left precuneus and left aMCC in females with UCPPS. This study provides evidence for disease and sex-related alterations in the default mode, salience, and basal ganglia networks in patients with UCPPS, which are moderated by EALs, and associated with clinical symptoms and quality of life (QoL).
Project description:Several studies have suggested that females and males differ in reward behaviors and their underlying neural circuitry. Whether human sex differences extend across neural and behavioral levels for both rewards and punishments remains unclear. We studied a community sample of 221 young women and men who performed a monetary incentive task known to engage the mesoaccumbal pathway and salience network. Both stimulus salience (behavioral relevance) and valence (win vs loss) varied during the task. In response to high- vs low-salience stimuli presented during the monetary incentive task, men showed greater subjective arousal ratings, behavioral accuracy and skin conductance responses (P <?0.006, Hedges' effect size g =?0.38 to 0.46). In a subsample studied with functional magnetic resonance imaging (n =?44), men exhibited greater responsiveness to stimulus salience in the nucleus accumbens, midbrain, anterior insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (P <?0.02, g =?0.86 to 1.7). Behavioral, autonomic and neural sensitivity to the valence of stimuli did not differ by sex, indicating that responses to rewards vs punishments were similar in women and men. These results reveal novel and robust sex differences in reward- and punishment-related traits, behavior, autonomic activity and neural responses. These convergent results suggest a neurobehavioral basis for sexual dimorphism observed in the reward system, including reward-related disorders.
Project description:Early life stress (ELS) induces long-term effects in later functioning and interacts with further exposure to other stressors in adulthood to shape our responsiveness to reward-related cues. The attribution of incentive salience to food-related cues may be modulated by previous and current exposures to stressors in a sex-dependent manner. We hypothesized from human data that exposure to a traumatic (severe) adult stressor will decrease the attribution of incentive salience to reward-associated cues, especially in females, because these effects are modulated by previous ELS. To study these factors in Long-Evans rats, we used as an ELS model of restriction of nesting material and concurrently evaluated maternal care. In adulthood, the offspring of both sexes were exposed to acute immobilization (IMO), and several days after, a Pavlovian conditioning procedure was used to assess the incentive salience of food-related cues. Some rats developed more attraction to the cue predictive of reward (sign-tracking) and others were attracted to the location of the reward itself, the food-magazine (goal-tracking). Several dopaminergic markers were evaluated by in situ hybridization. The results showed that ELS increased maternal care and decreased body weight gain (only in females). Regarding incentive salience, in absolute control animals, females presented slightly greater sign-tracking behavior than males. Non-ELS male rats exposed to IMO showed a bias towards goal-tracking, whereas in females, IMO produced a bias towards sign-tracking. Animals of both sexes not exposed to IMO displayed an intermediate phenotype. ELS in IMO-treated females was able to reduce sign-tracking and decrease tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the ventral tegmental area and dopamine D1 receptor expression in the accumbens shell. Although the predicted greater decrease in females in sign-tracking after IMO exposure was not corroborated by the data, the results highlight the idea that sex is an important factor in the study of the long-term impact of early and adult stressors.
Project description:Increased motivation for highly rewarding food is a major contributing factor to obesity. Most of the literature focuses on the mesolimbic nuclei as the core of reward behavior regulation. However, the lateral hypothalamus (LH) is also a key reward-control locus in the brain. Here we hypothesize that manipulating glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) activity selectively in the LH can profoundly affect food reward behavior, ultimately leading to obesity. Progressive ratio operant responding for sucrose was examined in male and female rats, following GLP-1R activation and pharmacological or genetic GLP-1R blockade in the LH. Ingestive behavior and metabolic parameters, as well as molecular and efferent targets, of the LH GLP-1R activation were also evaluated. Food motivation was reduced by activation of LH GLP-1R. Conversely, acute pharmacological blockade of LH GLP-1R increased food motivation but only in male rats. GLP-1R activation also induced a robust reduction in food intake and body weight. Chronic knockdown of LH GLP-1R induced by intraparenchymal delivery of an adeno-associated virus-short hairpin RNA construct was sufficient to markedly and persistently elevate ingestive behavior and body weight and ultimately resulted in a doubling of fat mass in males and females. Interestingly, increased food reinforcement was again found only in males. Our data identify the LH GLP-1R as an indispensable element of normal food reinforcement, food intake and body weight regulation. These findings also show, for we believe the first time, that brain GLP-1R manipulation can result in a robust and chronic body weight gain. The broader implications of these findings are that the LH differs between females and males in its ability to control motivated and ingestive behaviors.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to characterize obesity-related sex differences in the intrinsic activity and connectivity of the brain's reward networks. METHODS:Eighty-six women (n?=?43) and men (n?=?43) completed a 10-minute resting functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Sex differences and commonalities in BMI-related frequency power distribution and reward seed-based connectivity were investigated by using partial least squares analysis. RESULTS:For whole-brain activity in both men and women, increased BMI was associated with increased slow-5 activity in the left globus pallidus (GP) and substantia nigra. In women only, increased BMI was associated with increased slow-4 activity in the right GP and bilateral putamen. For seed-based connectivity in women, increased BMI was associated with reduced slow-5 connectivity between the left GP and putamen and the emotion and cortical regulation regions, but in men, increased BMI was associated with increased connectivity with the medial frontal cortex. In both men and women, increased BMI was associated with increased slow-4 connectivity between the right GP and bilateral putamen and the emotion regulation and sensorimotor-related regions. CONCLUSIONS:The stronger relationship between increased BMI and decreased connectivity of core reward network components with cortical and emotion regulation regions in women may be related to the greater prevalence of emotional eating. The present findings suggest the importance of personalized treatments for obesity that consider the sex of the affected individual.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more prevalent in males than in females, but the neurobiological mechanisms that give rise to this sex-bias are poorly understood. The female protective hypothesis suggests that the manifestation of ASD in females requires higher cumulative genetic and environmental risk relative to males. Here, we test this hypothesis by assessing the additive impact of several ASD-associated OXTR variants on reward network resting-state functional connectivity in males and females with and without ASD, and explore how genotype, sex, and diagnosis relate to heterogeneity in neuroendophenotypes. Females with ASD who carried a greater number of ASD-associated risk alleles in the OXTR gene showed greater functional connectivity between the nucleus accumbens (NAcc; hub of the reward network) and subcortical brain areas important for motor learning. Relative to males with ASD, females with ASD and higher OXTR risk-allele-dosage showed increased connectivity between the NAcc, subcortical regions, and prefrontal brain areas involved in mentalizing. This increased connectivity between NAcc and prefrontal cortex mirrored the relationship between genetic risk and brain connectivity observed in neurotypical males showing that, under increased OXTR genetic risk load, females with ASD and neurotypical males displayed increased connectivity between reward-related brain regions and prefrontal cortex. These results indicate that females with ASD differentially modulate the effects of increased genetic risk on brain connectivity relative to males with ASD, providing new insights into the neurobiological mechanisms through which the female protective effect may manifest.
Project description:<b>Introduction:</b> Age-related brain changes are one of the most important world health problems due to the rising lifespan and size of the elderly populations. The aim of the study was to assess the effect of ageing in women on coordinated brain activity between eight resting-state networks. <b>Material and Methods:</b> The study group comprised 60 healthy female volunteers who were divided into two age groups: younger women (aged 20-30 <i>n</i> = 30) and older women (aged 55-80 <i>n</i> = 30). Resting-state data were collected during a 15 min scan in the eyes-closed condition using a 3T MR scanner. Data were preprocessed and analysed using the CONN toolbox version 19.c. The large-scale network analysis included <i>a priori</i> selected regions of interest of the default mode, the sensorimotor, the visual, the salience, the dorsal attention, the fronto-parietal, the language, and the cerebellar network. <b>Results:</b> Within the visual, the default mode, the salience, and the sensorimotor network, the intra-network resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) was significantly higher with increasing age. There was also a significant increase in the inter-network RSFC in older females compared to young females found in the following networks: sensorimotor lateral and salience, salience and language, salience and fronto-parietal, cerebellar anterior and default mode, cerebellar posterior and default mode, visual and sensorimotor lateral, visual and sensorimotor, visual lateral and default mode, language and cerebellar anterior, language and cerebellar posterior, fronto-parietal and cerebellar anterior, dorsal attention and sensorimotor, dorsal attention and default mode, sensorimotor superior, and salience. Compared to young females, elderly women presented bilaterally significantly lower inter-network RSFC of the salience supramarginal gyrus and cerebellar posterior, sensorimotor lateral, and cerebellar anterior network, and sensorimotor lateral and cerebellar posterior as well as sensorimotor superior and cerebellar posterior network. <b>Conclusion:</b> Increased RSFC between some brain networks including the visual, the default mode, the salience, the sensorimotor, the language, the fronto-parietal, the dorsal attention, and the cerebellar networks in elderly females may function as a compensation mechanism during the ageing process of the brain. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report the importance of increase of cerebellar networks RSFC during healthy female ageing.
Project description:Researchers have reported sex-differentiated maturation of white matter (WM) during puberty. It is not clear, however, whether such distinctions contribute to documented sex differences in sensitivity to reward and punishment during adolescence. Given the role of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAcc) in reward and punishment-related behaviors, we tested in a cross-sectional study whether males and females (N = 156, 89 females; ages 9-14 years) differ in the association between pubertal stage and fixel-based morphometry of WM fibers connecting the OFC and NAcc (i.e., the fronto-accumbal tract). Further, we examined whether males and females differ in associations between fronto-accumbal WM measures and self-reported sensitivity to reward and punishment. Pubertal stage was positively associated with fronto-accumbal fiber density and cross-section (FDC) in males, but not in females. Consistent with previous reports, males reported higher reward sensitivity than did females, although fronto-accumbal combined FDC was not related to reward sensitivity in either sex. Meanwhile, only males showed a negative association between fronto-accumbal tract FDC and sensitivity to punishment. Follow-up analyses revealed that fiber cross-section, but not density, was related to pubertal stage and punishment sensitivity in males, as well as to reward sensitivity in all participants. Our findings suggest there are sex differences in puberty-related maturation of the fronto-accumbal tract, and this tract is related to lower punishment sensitivity in adolescent males compared to females.
Project description:The rewarding properties of social interactions are essential for the expression of social behavior and the development of adaptive social relationships. Here, we review sex differences in social reward, and more specifically, how oxytocin (OT) acts in the mesolimbic dopamine system (MDS) to mediate the rewarding properties of social interactions in a sex-dependent manner. Evidence from rodents and humans suggests that same-sex social interactions may be more rewarding in females than in males. We propose that there is an inverted U relationship between OT dose, social reward, and neural activity within structures of the MDS in both males and females, and that this dose-response relationship is initiated at lower doses in females than males. As a result, depending on the dose of OT administered, OT could reduce social reward in females, while enhancing it in males. Sex differences in the neural mechanisms regulating social reward may contribute to sex differences in the incidence of a large number of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. This review addresses the potential significance of a sex-dependent inverted U dose-response function for OT's effects on social reward and in the development of gender-specific therapies for these disorders.