Much is known about the development of the whole amygdala, but less is known about its structurally and functionally diverse subregions. One notable distinguishing feature is their wide range of androgen and estrogen receptor densities. Given the rise in pubertal hormones during adolescence, sex steroid levels as well as receptor sensitivity could influence age-related subregion volumes. Therefore, our goal was to evaluate the associations between the total amygdala and its subregion volumes in relation to sex hormones – estradiol and free testosterone (FT) – as a function of age and genetic differences in androgen receptor (AR) sensitivity in a sample of 297 adolescents (46% female). In males, we found small effects of FT-by-age interactions in the total amygdala, portions of the basolateral complex, and the cortical and medial nuclei (CMN), with the CMN effects being moderated by AR sensitivity. For females, small effects were seen with increased genetic AR sensitivity relating to smaller basolateral complexes. However, none of these small effects passed multiple comparisons. Future larger studies are necessary to replicate these small, yet possibly meaningful effects of FT-by-age associations and modulation by AR sensitivity on amygdala development to ultimately determine if they contribute to known sex differences in emotional neurodevelopment.
- Androgen receptor
- Lateral amygdala
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry