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Neuroimage. 2012 Jan 16;59(2):1123-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.044. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Genetic influences on hippocampal volume differ as a function of testosterone level in middle-aged men.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. mspanizz@ucsd.edu

Abstract

The hippocampus expresses a large number of androgen receptors; therefore, in men it is potentially vulnerable to the gradual age-related decline of testosterone levels. In the present study we sought to elucidate the nature of the relationship between testosterone and hippocampal volume in a sample of middle-aged male twins (average age 55.8 years). We found no evidence for a correlation between testosterone level and hippocampal volume, as well as no indication of shared genetic influences. However, a significant moderating effect of testosterone on the genetic and environmental determinants of hippocampal volume was observed. Genetic influences on hippocampal volume increased substantially as a function of increasing testosterone level, while environmental influences either decreased or remained stable. These findings provide evidence for an apparent gene-by-hormone interaction on hippocampal volume. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the heritability of a brain structure in adults may be modified by an endogenous biological factor.

PMID:
21983185
PMCID:
PMC3230702
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.044
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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