Intrauterine testosterone exposure and depression risk in opposite-sex and same-sex twins, a Danish register study

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Background Males have a lower prevalence of depression than females and testosterone may be a contributing factor. A comparison of opposite-sex and same-sex twins can be used indirectly to establish the role of prenatal testosterone exposure and the risk of depression. We therefore aimed to explore differences in depression risk using opposite-sex and same-sex twins. Methods We included 126 087 opposite-sex and same-sex twins from the Danish Twin Registry followed in nationwide Danish registers. We compared sex-specific incidences of depression diagnosis and prescriptions of antidepressants between opposite-sex and same-sex twins using Cox proportional hazard regression. Results During follow-up, 2664 (2.1%) twins were diagnosed with depression and 19 514 (15.5%) twins had purchased at least one prescription of antidepressants. First, in male twins, we found that the opposite-sex male twins had the same risk of depression compared to the same-sex male twins {hazard ratio (HR) = 1.01 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88-1.17)]}. Revealing the risk of use of antidepressants, the opposite-sex male twins had a slightly higher risk of 4% (HR = 1.04 (95% CI 1.00-1.11)) compared with the same-sex male twins. Second, in the female opposite-sex twins, we revealed a slightly higher, however, not statistically significant risk of depression (HR = 1.08 (95% CI 0.97-1.29)) or purchase of antidepressants (HR = 1.01 (95% CI 0.96-1.05)) when compared to the same-sex female twins. Conclusions We found limited support for the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to testosterone was associated with the risk of depression later in life.

TidsskriftPsychological Medicine
Udgave nummer16
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 2023

ID: 259103234