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

Areti Smaragdi, Harriet Cornwell, Nicola Toschi, Roberta Riccelli, Karen Gonzalez-Madruga, Amy Wells, Roberta Clanton, Rosalind Baker, Jack Rogers, Nayra Martin-Key, Ignazio Puzzo, Molly Batchelor, Justina Sidlauskaite, Anka Bernhard, Anne Martinelli, Gregor Kohls, Kerstin Konrad, Sara Baumann, Nora Raschle, Christina StadlerChristine Freitag, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Stephane De Brito, Graeme Fairchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (SciVal)
15 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-712
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences in the relationship between conduct disorder and cortical structure in adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this