Sex differences in the neuroanatomy of alcohol dependence: hippocampus and amygdala subregions in a sample of 966 people from the ENIGMA Addiction Working Group

ENIGMA Addiction Working Group

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Abstract

Males and females with alcohol dependence have distinct mental health and cognitive problems. Animal models of addiction postulate that the underlying neurobiological mechanisms are partially distinct, but there is little evidence of sex differences in humans with alcohol dependence as most neuroimaging studies have been conducted in males. We examined hippocampal and amygdala subregions in a large sample of 966 people from the ENIGMA Addiction Working Group. This comprised 643 people with alcohol dependence (225 females), and a comparison group of 323 people without alcohol dependence (98 females). Males with alcohol dependence had smaller volumes of the total amygdala and its basolateral nucleus than male controls, that exacerbated with alcohol dose. Alcohol dependence was also associated with smaller volumes of the hippocampus and its CA1 and subiculum subfield volumes in both males and females. In summary, hippocampal and amygdalar subregions may be sensitive to both shared and distinct mechanisms in alcohol-dependent males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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