Sex, strain, and lateral differences in brain cytoarchitecture across a large mouse population

David Elkind, Hannah Hochgerner, Etay Aloni, Noam Shental, Amit Zeisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mouse brain is by far the most intensively studied among mammalian brains, yet basic measures of its cytoarchitecture remain obscure. For example, quantifying cell numbers, and the interplay of sex, strain, and individual variability in cell density and volume is out of reach for many regions. The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity project produces high-resolution full brain images of hundreds of brains. Although these were created for a different purpose, they reveal details of neuroanatomy and cytoarchitecture. Here, we used this population to systematically characterize cell density and volume for each anatomical unit in the mouse brain. We developed a DNN-based segmentation pipeline that uses the autofluorescence intensities of images to segment cell nuclei even within the densest regions, such as the dentate gyrus. We applied our pipeline to 507 brains of males and females from C57BL/6J and FVB.CD1 strains. Globally, we found that increased overall brain volume does not result in uniform expansion across all regions. Moreover, region-specific density changes are often negatively correlated with the volume of the region; therefore, cell count does not scale linearly with volume. Many regions, including layer 2/3 across several cortical areas, showed distinct lateral bias. We identified strain-specific or sex-specific differences. For example, males tended to have more cells in extended amygdala and hypothalamic regions (MEA, BST, BLA, BMA, and LPO, AHN) while females had more cells in the orbital cortex (ORB). Yet, inter-individual variability was always greater than the effect size of a single qualifier. We provide the results of this analysis as an accessible resource for the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere82376
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Elkind et al.

© 2023, Elkind et al.


  • computational biology
  • imaging
  • mouse
  • mouse brain
  • neuroanatomy
  • sexual dimorphism
  • systems biology
  • Amygdala
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Mammals
  • Animals
  • Brain/anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Mice


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