SfN: PTSD From Different Traumas Shows Different Grey Matter Reduction Patterns

MRI brain scan
MRI brain scan
This suggests that stratified diagnosis and treatment for PTSD patients are necessary in clinics.

Researchers found that grey matter reduction patterns in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were associated with specific types of trauma. These findings were presented at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, November 12-16, 2016 in San Diego, California.

While previous studies had shown that differences in epidemiology, clinical manifestation, and treatment outcome depend on the specific nature of the instigating trauma, it was still unclear whether PTSD brains affected by different traumas would show neuroanatomical differences.

Linghui Meng from the West China Hospital in Chengdu, China and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of grey matter changes in PTSD that consisted of 16 studies with 246 patients who later developed PTSD and 347 trauma-exposed controls (TECs). The researchers used anisotropic effect-size signed differential mapping (AES-SDM) and its subgroup analysis, and used meta-regression to explore the effects of clinical characteristics and demographics.

The researchers found general grey matter reduction foci in the prefrontal-limbic-striatal system of PTSD brains compared with the brains of TECs. They also found that the patterns of grey matter reduction were trauma-specific:

  • PTSD from accidents had grey matter reductions in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC)
  • PTSD from natural disasters had grey matter reductions in the mPFC and ACC, as well as the left amygdala and left hippocampus
  • PTSD from combat had grey matter reductions in the left striatum, the left insula, and the left middle temporal gyrus (MTG)
  • Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale scores were significantly associated with grey matter reductions in bilateral ACC and mPFC

This study “provides further evidences for different brain mechanisms underlying PTSD by different traumas, and suggests that stratified diagnosis and treatment for PTSD patients are necessary in clinics,” the authors concluded.

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Meng L, Jiang J, Jin C, et al. Meta-analysis reveals trauma-specific gray matter alterations in PTSD. Presented at: 2016 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. November 12-16, 2016; San Diego, California. Abstract 547.07 / JJJ36.