Identifying craniofacial features associated with prenatal exposure to androgens and testing their relationship with brain development
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We used magnetic resonance (MR) images obtained in same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins (n = 119, 8 years of age) to study possible effects of prenatal androgens on craniofacial features. Using a principal component analysis of 19 craniofacial landmarks placed on the MR images, we identified a principal component capturing craniofacial features that distinguished females with a presumed differential exposure to prenatal androgens by virtue of having a male (vs. a female) co-twin (Cohen’s d = 0.76). Subsequently, we tested the possibility that this craniofacial “signature” of prenatal exposure to androgens predicts brain size, a known sexually dimorphic trait. In an independent sample of female adolescents (singletons; n = 462), we found that the facial signature predicts up to 8 % of variance in brain size. These findings are consistent with the organizational effects of androgens on brain development and suggest that the facial signature derived in this study could complement other indirect measures of prenatal exposure to androgens.
KeywordsPrenatal androgens Twins Adolescents MRI Face Brain
The Saguenay Youth Study was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec, and the Canadian Foundation of Innovation. The Quebec Newborn Twin Study was funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research and Fonds de la recherche en santé du Quebec. We would like to thank SciNet for access to its supercomputer platform, which is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, NSERC, the Government of Ontario, FedDev Ontario, and the University of Toronto. Finally, we would also like to thank the European Social Fund and the government of Czech Republic who co-financed the project „Employment of Newly Graduated Doctors of Science for Scientific Excellence (grant number CZ.1.07/2.3.00/30.0009).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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