Initiation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in young girls undergoing central precocious puberty exerts remodeling effects on the prefrontal cortex

Di Yang, Wenjing Zhang, Yaxin Zhu, Peining Liu, Bo Tao, Yuchuan Fu, Yu Chen, Lu Zhou, Lu Liu, Xin Gao, Xiaozheng Liu, Leah H. Rubin, John A. Sweeney, Zhihan Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Central precocious puberty (CPP) has been shown to exert significant effects on psychosocial development. These early puberty-related hormones and psychosocial functional changes are considered to be associated with specific brain development. However, the biological mechanisms underlying the sculpting of human brain architecture and modulation of psychosocial transformation by puberty-related hormonal maturation remain elusive, especially during the early phase of CPP. The current investigation aims to specify the brain regions in which early hormone-related maturation effects occur during CPP and their relationships with psychological functions. 65 young girls (aged 4.3-8.0 years) underwent structural imaging on a 3T MR system, completed psychological tests and performed the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulation test to identify hormonal manifestations of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG axis) activation. Based on the GnRH test, 28 young girls were identified with CPP, whereas the other 37 girls were identified with non-central precocious puberty (NCPP). Cortical parameters were calculated and compared between the two groups after adjusting for age, weight, and height. Brain regions showing group differences were extracted and correlated with serum hormone levels and psychological parameters. The CPP girls showed thinner cortices primarily in the right rostral middle frontal cortex. This morphological difference was positively correlated with stimulated estradiol (E2) levels. Further, higher E2 levels were significantly associated with higher hyperactivity scores. Premature HPG axis activation in CPP girls at an early stage appears to exert remodeling effects on brain anatomy, primarily in the prefrontal cortex, which may affect psychological development following the emergence of robust changes in sex hormones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number332
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume10
Issue numberMAY
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Central precocious puberty
  • Cortical thickness
  • Estradiol
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis
  • Psychological development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Yang, D., Zhang, W., Zhu, Y., Liu, P., Tao, B., Fu, Y., Chen, Y., Zhou, L., Liu, L., Gao, X., Liu, X., Rubin, L. H., Sweeney, J. A., & Yan, Z. (2019). Initiation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in young girls undergoing central precocious puberty exerts remodeling effects on the prefrontal cortex. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10(MAY), [332]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00332