Gender-related association among childhood maltreatment, brain structure and clinical features in bipolar disorder

Lejla Colic, Alexis Clark, Anjali Sankar, Durga J Rathi, Danielle A Goldman, Jihoon A Kim, Luca M Villa, E Kale Edmiston, Elizabeth T C Lippard, Brian Pittman, R Todd Constable, Carolyn M Mazure, Hilary P Blumberg


Bipolar disorder (BD) and exposure to childhood maltreatment (CM), which is present at high rates in BD, are both associated with hippocampus and prefrontal cortex structural alterations thought to contribute to clinical features. Gender-related differences are implicated in BD for CM exposure, brain structure and clinical features. However, relationships among these factors in BD are understudied. This study aimed to investigate associations among gender, CM, hippocampus and prefrontal gray matter structure and clinical features in BD. Childhood trauma questionnaire, structured clinical assessments and 3 Tesla structural magnetic resonance imaging were obtained for 236 adults (18-63 years, 32.0 ± 12.6): 119 with BD (58.8% women) and 117 healthy controls (HCs, 50.4% women). Women with BD reported higher CM severity than men with BD and HCs (B=-14.34, 95% confidence intervals (CI)[-22.71,-5.97], p<.001). CM and gender showed a significant interaction for left hippocampus (B=-7.41, 95% CI[-14.10,-0.71], p<.05); CM severity was negatively associated with left hippocampus only in women with BD. In women with BD, CM was associated with post-traumatic stress disorder comorbidity (B = 25.68, 95% CI[15.11,36.25], p<.001). In men with BD, CM severity was associated with lower left frontal pole (B=-0.71, 95% CI[-1.14,-0.28], p<.05) and right superior frontal (B=-17.78, 95% CI[-30.66,-4.90], p<.05) surface area; the latter related to earlier age of first mood symptoms (B = 33.97, 95% CI[7.61, 60.33], p<.05). Findings support gender-related effects of CM on frontotemporal structure and clinical features of BD. The findings bring novel perspectives for gendered pathophysiological models of effects of CM in BD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder/pathology
  • Brain
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Female
  • Gray Matter/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex


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