Expansion of hippocampal and amygdala shape in posttraumatic stress and early life stress

Ruth Klaming, Andrea D. Spadoni, Dick J. Veltman, Alan N. Simmons

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and childhood adversity on brain structure. We assessed hippocampal and amygdala shape in veterans with varying levels of PTSD symptom severity and exposure to early life stressors (ELS). Methods: A total of 70 male veterans, who were deployed to a combat area during OIF/OEF/OND and who had been exposed to trauma during deployment, were included in the study. We applied a vertex-wise shape analysis of 3T MRI scans to measure indentation or expansion in hippocampal and amygdala shape. Results: Analyses showed a positive correlation between number of ELS and vertices in the right amygdala and the right hippocampus, as well as a positive correlation between PTSD symptom severity and right hippocampal vertices. There were no significant interactions between PTSD symptoms, ELS, and brain shape. Discussion: Results indicate a relationship between exposure to more childhood adversity and expansion in amygdala and hippocampal shape as well as between more severe PTSD symptoms and expansion in hippocampal shape. These findings may have important implications for the pathophysiology of trauma-related disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101982
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Amygdala
  • Early life stress
  • Hippocampus
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Shape analysis

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