Sexually dimorphic functional connectivity in response to high vs. low energy-dense food cues in obese humans: an fMRI study.
Atalayer D., Pantazatos SP., Gibson CD., McOuatt H., Puma L., Astbury NM., Geliebter A.
Sexually-dimorphic behavioral and biological aspects of human eating have been described. Using psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis, we investigated sex-based differences in functional connectivity with a key emotion-processing region (amygdala, AMG) and a key reward-processing area (ventral striatum, VS) in response to high vs. low energy-dense (ED) food images using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in obese persons in fasted and fed states. When fed, in response to high vs. low-ED food cues, obese men (vs. women) had greater functional connectivity with AMG in right subgenual anterior cingulate, whereas obese women had greater functional connectivity with AMG in left angular gyrus and right primary motor areas. In addition, when fed, AMG functional connectivity with pre/post-central gyrus was more associated with BMI in women (vs. men). When fasted, obese men (vs. women) had greater functional connectivity with AMG in bilateral supplementary frontal and primary motor areas, left precuneus, and right cuneus, whereas obese women had greater functional connectivity with AMG in left inferior frontal gyrus, right thalamus, and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. When fed, greater functional connectivity with VS was observed in men in bilateral supplementary and primary motor areas, left postcentral gyrus, and left precuneus. These sex-based differences in functional connectivity in response to visual food cues may help partly explain differential eating behavior, pathology prevalence, and outcomes in men and women.