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Forms and measures of adult and developing human corpus callosum: is there sexual dimorphism?
Journal of Comparative Neurology
Date de publication
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tPublication Status: ppublish
The sexual dimorphism of the human corpus callosum (CC) is currently controversial, possibly because of difficulties in morphometric analysis. We have reinvestigated the issue by using morphometric techniques specially designed to yield objective measurements of CC size and shape. The development of the CC was studied with similar techniques in order to investigate whether its final shape and size might be influenced by axonal elimination, as could be expected from previous animal studies. We have measured the CCs of 32 men and 26 women; 27 male and 19 female CCs were from brain tissue, the others were from magnetic resonance imaging graphs. Women tended to have 1) a smaller cross-sectional callosal area (CCA); 2) a larger fraction of CCA in the posterior fifth of the CC; 3) more slender CCs; and 4) more bulbous splenia. These differences could not be detected by simple inspection but were demonstrated by measurement and statistical analysis. However, CCA was correlated with the other sexually dimorphic parameters, and the sex-related differences in the latter became nonsignificant when variations in CCA were factored out or when male and female populations with similar CCA were compared. In addition, we analyzed CCs of 16 male and 16 female fetuses and of 13 male and 15 female infants and children. This sample ranged in age between 20 weeks of gestation and 14 years but covered in detail the period up to 14 months after birth. CCA increased throughout the latter period but decreased slightly between about 33 weeks of gestation and the beginning of the second postnatal mouth. This decrease coincided with thinning of the CC and a marked increase in bulbosity of the splenium. No sexual dimorphism could be demonstrated until the beginning of the postnatal period. In the age group between birth (at term) and the 14th month, CCA was, as in the adult, larger in males. Unlike in the adults, the CC was longer in males and the bulbosity index was the same in the two sexes. Axonal elimination may play a role in the perinatal pause in CCA growth and in the concomitant changes in callosal shape.
Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aging/physiology, Child, Preschool, Corpus Callosum/anatomy & histology, Corpus Callosum/embryology, Embryonic and Fetal Development, Female, Fetus, Gestational Age, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Sex Characteristics
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