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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2017 Jul;37(7):2433-2440. doi: 10.1177/0271678X16668536. Epub 2016 Jan 1.

Sex differences of human cortical blood flow and energy metabolism.

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1 Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET Center, Aarhus University Hospitals, Aarhus, Denmark.
2 Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Australia.
3 Departement of Mathematics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
4 Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.
5 Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
6 Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
7 Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Brain energy metabolism is held to reflect energy demanding processes in neuropil related to the density and activity of synapses. There is recent evidence that men have higher density of synapses in temporal cortex than women. One consequence of these differences would be different rates of cortical energy turnover and blood flow in men and women. To test the hypotheses that rates of oxygen consumption (CMRO2) and cerebral blood flow are higher in men than in women in regions of cerebral cortex, and that the differences persist with aging, we used positron emission tomography to determine cerebral blood flow and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen as functions of age in healthy volunteers of both sexes. Cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen did not change with age for either sex and there were no differences of mean values of cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen between men and women in cerebral cortex. Women had significant decreases of cerebral blood flow as function of age in frontal and parietal lobes. Young women had significantly higher cerebral blood flow than men in frontal and temporal lobes, but these differences had disappeared at age 65. The absent sex difference of cerebral energy turnover suggests that the known differences of synaptic density between the sexes are counteracted by opposite differences of individual synaptic activity.


Aging; cerebral blood flow measurement; energy metabolism; gender; positron emission tomography

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