Amygdala, Hippocampus, and Ventral Medial Prefrontal Cortex Volumes Differ in Maltreated Youth with and without Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered a disorder of recovery where individuals fail to learn and retain extinction of the traumatic fear response. In maltreated youth, PTSD is common, chronic, and associated with comorbidity. Studies of extinction-related structural volumes (amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)) and this stress diathesis, in maltreated youth were not previously investigated. In this cross-sectional study, neuroanatomical volumes associated with extinction in maltreated youth with PTSD (N=31), without PTSD (N=32), and in non-maltreated healthy volunteers (n=57) were examined using magnetic resonance imaging. Groups were sociodemographically similar. Participants underwent extensive assessments for strict inclusion/exclusion criteria and DSM-IV disorders. Maltreated youth with PTSD demonstrated decreased right vmPFC volumes compared with both maltreated youth without PTSD and non-maltreated controls. Maltreated youth without PTSD demonstrated larger left amygdala and right hippocampal volumes compared with maltreated youth with PTSD and non-maltreated control youth. PTSD symptoms inversely correlated with right and left hippocampal and left amygdala volumes. Confirmatory masked voxel base morphometry analyses demonstrated greater medial orbitofrontal cortex gray matter intensity in controls than maltreated youth with PTSD. Volumetric results were not influenced by psychopathology or maltreatment variables. We identified volumetric differences in extinction-related structures between maltreated youth with PTSD from those without PTSD. Alterations of the vmPFC may be one mechanism that mediates the pathway from PTSD to comorbidity. Further longitudinal work is needed to determine neurobiological factors related to chronic and persistent PTSD, and to PTSD resilience despite maltreatment.
Morey, RA; Haswell, CC; Hooper, SR; De Bellis, MD
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