To examine the impact of environmental stress on grey matter volume in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we investigated the relationship between duration of PTSD and grey matter volume of hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex. Twenty-one participants with PTSD and 17 trauma-exposed controls, matched for age and sex and with no history of substance dependence, underwent a T1-weighted structural MRI scan and voxel-based morphometry was employed. After controlling for age, depression and whole-brain volume, analysis of covariance revealed significant reductions in hippocampus and rostral anterior cingulate cortex in PTSD, and there was a significant negative correlation between right hippocampal volume and PTSD duration. This pattern suggests that prolonged PTSD may have cumulative adverse effects on hippocampal volume, highlighting the potential role of genetic–environmental interactions.
aBrain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute, Westmead Hospital
bPsychological Medicine, Western Clinical School, University of Sydney
cSchool of Psychology, University of New South Wales
dMRI Unit, Department of Radiology, Westmead Hospital, Australia
Correspondence to Kim L. Felmingham, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
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Received 14 October 2008 accepted 24 June 2009