Sex Chromosome Dosage Effects on White Matter Structure in the Human Brain

Cereb Cortex. 2021 Oct 22;31(12):5339-5353. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab162.


Sex chromosome aneuploidies, a group of neurogenetic conditions characterized by aberrant sex chromosome dosage (SCD), are associated with increased risks for psychopathology as well as alterations in gray matter structure. However, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of potential SCD-associated changes in white matter structure, or knowledge of how these changes might relate to known alterations in gray matter anatomy. Thus, here, we use voxel-based morphometry on structural neuroimaging data to provide the first comprehensive maps of regional white matter volume (WMV) changes across individuals with varying SCD (n = 306). We show that mounting X- and Y-chromosome dosage are both associated with widespread WMV decreases, including in cortical, subcortical, and cerebellar tracts, as well as WMV increases in the genu of the corpus callosum and posterior thalamic radiation. We also correlate X- and Y-chromosome-linked WMV changes in certain regions to measures of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Finally, we demonstrate that SCD-driven WMV changes show a coordinated coupling with SCD-driven gray matter volume changes. These findings represent the most complete maps of X- and Y-chromosome effects on human white matter to date, and show how such changes connect to psychopathological symptoms and gray matter anatomy.

Trial registration: NCT00001246.

Keywords: aneuploidy; neuroimaging; sex chromosomes; white matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Sex Chromosomes
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / pathology

Associated data