Reduced frontal white matter volume in children with early onset of adrenarche

Paul Klauser, Sarah Whittle, Julian G Simmons, Michelle L Byrne, Lisa K Mundy, George C Patton, Alex Fornito, Nicholas Brian Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


While there is growing evidence that puberty affects brain development, very little is known about the structural brain changes associated with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an adrenal hormone that exhibits dramatic increases during adrenarche, the earliest phase of puberty. Moreover, no research has investigated whether relatively early exposure to DHEA (i.e., early adrenarche) during this period is associated with differences in brain structure. We ran a whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analysis on T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to compare gray (GMV) and white matter volumes (WMV) between children experiencing relatively early (. n=. 41) vs. relatively late (. n=. 44) adrenarche. We also investigated the correlations between GMV or WMV and DHEA levels, and finally, tested for sex differences in group and correlation analyses. We observed reduced frontal WMV in a cluster located on the left corona radiata in children experiencing earlier adrenarche. In addition, WMV in this area was negatively correlated with DHEA levels. We did not observe any effect of gender in both the group and the correlation analyses. Early onset of adrenarche (as defined by relatively early exposure to DHEA) may be associated with differences in the development of frontal white matter tracts
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • puberty
  • adrenarche
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • childhood
  • adolescence
  • brain
  • white matter
  • gray matter
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • voxel-based morphometry

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