Sex differences in brain metabolites in anxiety and mood disorders

Alessandro Pigoni, Giuseppe Delvecchio, Letizia Squarcina, Carolina Bonivento, Paolo Girardi, Livio Finos, Camilla Crisanti, Matteo Balestrieri, Serena D'Agostini, Jeffrey A. Stanley, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender differences in mood and anxiety disorders are well-established. However, the neural basis of these differences is not clear yet, especially in terms of brain metabolism. Indeed, although several proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (¹H MRS) investigations reported different metabolic levels in both depression and anxiety disorders, which have been also linked to symptoms severity and response to treatment, the role of gender on these differences have not been explored yet. Therefore, this study aims at investigating the role of sex in neurometabolic alterations associated with both mood and anxiety disorders. A 3T single-voxel ¹H MRS acquisition of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was acquired from 14 Major Depressive Disorder, 10 Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), 11 Panic Disorder (PD), patients and 16 healthy controls (HC). Among males, PD patients showed significantly lower GPC+PC (also observed in GAD+PD) and Glu levels compared to HC. Finally, a significant group x sex interaction effect was observed in the GPC+PC and Glu levels. We proved the presence of an association between sex and brain metabolites in anxiety spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111196
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - Nov 30 2020


  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Panic disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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