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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Different regional gray matter loss in recent onset PTSD and non PTSD after a single prolonged trauma exposure

Yunchun Chen, Kuang Fu, Chen Feng, Lihua Tang, Jian Zhang, Yi Huan, Jinli Cui, Yunfeng Mu, Shun Qi, Lize Xiong, Cheng Ma, Huaihai Wang, Qingrong Tan, Hong Yin
PloS One 2012, 7 (11): e48298
23155380

OBJECTIVE: Gray matter loss in the limbic structures was found in recent onset post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. In the present study, we measured regional gray matter volume in trauma survivors to verify the hypothesis that stress may cause different regional gray matter loss in trauma survivors with and without recent onset PTSD.

METHOD: High resolution T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were obtained from coal mine flood disaster survivors with (n = 10) and without (n = 10) recent onset PTSD and 20 no trauma exposed normal controls. The voxel-based morphometry (VBM) method was used to measure the regional gray matter volume in three groups, the correlations of PTSD symptom severities with the gray matter volume in trauma survivors were also analyzed by multiple regression.

RESULTS: Compared with normal controls, recent onset PTSD patients had smaller gray matter volume in left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and non PTSD subjects had smaller gray matter volume in the right pulvinar and left pallidum. The gray matter volume of the trauma survivors correlated negatively with CAPS scores in the right frontal lobe, left anterior and middle cingulate cortex, bilateral cuneus cortex, right middle occipital lobe, while in the recent onset PTSD, the gray matter volume correlated negatively with CAPS scores in bilateral superior medial frontal lobe and right ACC.

CONCLUSION: The present study identified gray matter loss in different regions in recent onset PTSD and non PTSD after a single prolonged trauma exposure. The gray matter volume of left dorsal ACC associated with the development of PTSD, while the gray matter volume of right pulvinar and left pallidum associated with the response to the severe stress. The atrophy of the frontal and limbic cortices predicts the symptom severities of the PTSD.

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