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Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 7;7(1):7397. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07735-2.

Income inequality, gene expression, and brain maturation during adolescence.

Author information

1
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
2
Rotman Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
4
Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
5
ECOBES, Cégep de Jonquière, Jonquiere, Canada.
6
University of Quebec in Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi, Canada.
7
Department of Radiology and Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
8
Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
9
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. tpaus@research.baycrest.org.
10
Rotman Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. tpaus@research.baycrest.org.
11
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. tpaus@research.baycrest.org.
12
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. tpaus@research.baycrest.org.
13
Child Mind Institute, New York, United States. tpaus@research.baycrest.org.

Abstract

Income inequality is associated with poor health and social outcomes. Negative social comparisons and competition may involve the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes in underlying some of these complex inter-relationships. Here we investigate brain maturation, indexed by age-related decreases in cortical thickness, in adolescents living in neighborhoods with differing levels of income inequality and household income. We examine whether inter-regional variations relate to those in glucocorticoid receptor (HPA) and androgen receptor (HPG) gene expression. For each sex, we used a median split of income inequality and household income (income-to-needs ratio) to create four subgroups. In female adolescents, the high-inequality low-income group displayed the greatest age-related decreases in cortical thickness. In this group, expression of glucocorticoid and androgen receptor genes explained the most variance in these age-related decreases in thickness across the cortex. We speculate that female adolescents living in high-inequality neighborhoods and low-income households may experience greater HPA and HPG activity, leading to steeper decreases in cortical thickness with age.

PMID:
28784996
PMCID:
PMC5547165
DOI:
10.1038/s41598-017-07735-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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