Cortical Brain Morphology in Young, Estrogen-Naive, and Adolescent, Estrogen-Treated Girls with Turner Syndrome

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Turner syndrome (TS) is a genetic condition that permits direct investigation of the complex interaction among genes, hormones, behavior, and brain development. Here, we used automated segmentation and surface-based morphometry to characterize the differences in brain morphology in children (n = 30) and adolescents (n = 16) with TS relative to age- and sex-matched control groups (n = 21 and 24, respectively). Our results show that individuals with TS, young and adolescent, present widespread reduction of gray matter volume, white matter volume and surface area (SA) over both parietal and occipital cortices bilaterally, as well as enlarged amygdala. In contrast to the young cohort, adolescents with TS showed significantly larger mean cortical thickness and significantly smaller total SA compared with healthy controls. Exploratory developmental analyses suggested aberrant regional brain maturation in the parahippocampal gyrus and orbitofrontal regions from childhood to adolescence in TS. These findings show the existence of abnormal brain morphology early in development in TS, but also suggest the presence of altered neurodevelopmental trajectories in some regions, which could potentially be the consequences of estrogen deficiency, both pre- and postnatally.

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