Neurosteroid Levels in the Orbital Frontal Cortex of Subjects with PTSD and Controls: A Preliminary Report.
Background: Neurosteroids mediate stress signaling and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in both preclinical and clinical studies. Compared to controls, subjects with PTSD exhibit altered neurosteroid levels in peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid as well as hypoactivity in the medial orbital frontal cortex (mOFC). Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare neurosteroid levels in the mOFC of subjects with PTSD (n = 18) and controls (n = 35). Methods: Gray matter was dissected from fresh-frozen mOFC, and levels of the neurosteroids pregnenolone, allopregnanolone, pregnanolone, epiallopregnanolone, epipregnanolone, tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone, and androsterone were determined by gas chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS). Results: Analyses of unadjusted levels revealed that males with PTSD had significantly decreased levels of allopregnanolone (p = 0.03) compared to control males and females with PTSD had significantly increased levels of pregnenolone (p = 0.03) relative to control females. After controlling for age, postmortem interval, and smoking status, results showed that males with PTSD had significantly decreased levels of androsterone (t46 = 2.37, p = 0.02) compared to control males and females with PTSD had significantly increased levels of pregnanolone (t46 = -2.25, p = 0.03) relative to control females. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first report of neurosteroid levels in postmortem brain tissue of subjects with PTSD. Although replication is required in other brain regions and in a larger cohort of subjects, the results suggest a dysregulation of allopregnanolone and androsterone in males with PTSD and pregnanolone in females with PTSD in the mOFC.
Cruz, DA; Glantz, LA; McGaughey, KD; Parke, G; Shampine, LJ; Kilts, JD; Naylor, JC; Marx, CE; Williamson, DE
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