Impact of puberty on the evolution of cerebral perfusion during adolescence

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 10;111(23):8643-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1400178111. Epub 2014 May 27.


Puberty is the defining biological process of adolescent development, yet its effects on fundamental properties of brain physiology such as cerebral blood flow (CBF) have never been investigated. Capitalizing on a sample of 922 youths ages 8-22 y imaged using arterial spin labeled MRI as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, we studied normative developmental differences in cerebral perfusion in males and females, as well as specific associations between puberty and CBF. Males and females had conspicuously divergent nonlinear trajectories in CBF evolution with development as modeled by penalized splines. Seventeen brain regions, including hubs of the executive and default mode networks, showed a robust nonlinear age-by-sex interaction that surpassed Bonferroni correction. Notably, within these regions the decline in CBF was similar between males and females in early puberty and only diverged in midpuberty, with CBF actually increasing in females. Taken together, these results delineate sex-specific growth curves for CBF during youth and for the first time to our knowledge link such differential patterns of development to the effects of puberty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Spin Labels
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Spin Labels

Associated data

  • dbGaP/PHS000607.V1.P1