Amygdala Nuclei Volume and Shape in Military Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: The amygdala is a subcortical structure involved in socioemotional and associative fear learning processes relevant for understanding the mechanisms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research in animals indicates that the amygdala is a heterogeneous structure in which the basolateral and centromedial divisions are susceptible to stress. While the amygdala complex is implicated in the pathophysiology of PTSD, little is known about the specific contributions of the individual nuclei that constitute the amygdala complex. METHODS: Military veterans (n = 355), including military veterans with PTSD (n = 149) and trauma-exposed control subjects without PTSD (n = 206), underwent high-resolution T1-weighted anatomical scans. Automated FreeSurfer segmentation of the amygdala yielded 9 structures: basal, lateral, accessory basal, anterior amygdaloid, and central, medial, cortical, and paralaminar nuclei, along with the corticoamygdaloid transition zone. Subregional volumes were compared between groups using ordinary-least-squares regression with relevant demographic and clinical regressors followed by 3-dimensional shape analysis of whole amygdala. RESULTS: PTSD was associated with smaller left and right lateral and paralaminar nuclei, but with larger left and right central, medial, and cortical nuclei (p < .05, false discovery rate corrected). Shape analyses revealed lower radial distance in anterior bilateral amygdala and lower Jacobian determinant in posterior bilateral amygdala in PTSD compared with control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Alterations in select amygdala subnuclear volumes and regional shape distortions are associated with PTSD in military veterans. Volume differences of the lateral nucleus and the centromedial complex associated with PTSD demonstrate a subregion-specific pattern that is consistent with their functional roles in fear learning and fear expression behaviors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Morey, RA; Clarke, EK; Haswell, CC; Phillips, RD; Clausen, AN; Mufford, MS; Saygin, Z; VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup, ; Wagner, HR; LaBar, KS

Published Date

  • March 2020

Published In

  • Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging

Volume / Issue

  • 5 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 281 - 290

PubMed ID

  • 32029420

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8040290

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2451-9030

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.11.016


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States