Sexual dimorphism revealed in the structure of the mouse brain using three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging

Neuroimage. 2007 May 1;35(4):1424-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.02.023. Epub 2007 Mar 1.


A large variety of sexual dimorphisms have been described in the brains of many vertebrate species, including humans. Naturally occurring sexual dimorphism has been implicated in the risk, progression and recovery from numerous neurological disorders, including head injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke. Genetically altered mice are a key tool in the study of structure-function relationships in the mammalian central nervous system and serve as models for human neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. However, there are a limited number of quantitative three-dimensional analyses of the adult mouse brain structures. In order to address limitations in our knowledge of anatomical differences, a comprehensive study was undertaken using full 3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine sexual dimorphisms in the C57BL/6J whole mouse brain. An expected difference in overall brain size between the sexes was found, where male brains were 2.5% larger in volume than female brains. Beyond the overall brain size differences in the sexes, the following significantly different regions were found: males were larger in the thalamus, primary motor cortex and posterior hippocampus, while females were larger in posterior hypothalamic area, entorhinal cortex and anterior hippocampus. Using high-definition 3D MRI on a normal inbred mouse strain, we have mapped in detail many sex-associated statistically significant differences in brain structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sex Characteristics