Glucose metabolic changes in the prefrontal cortex are associated with HPA axis response to a psychosocial stressor.
ABSTRACT: The prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been well known for its role in higher order cognition, affect regulation and social reasoning. Although the precise underpinnings have not been sufficiently described, increasing evidence also supports a prefrontal involvement in the regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Here we investigate the PFC's role in HPA axis regulation during a psychosocial stress exposure in 14 healthy humans. Regional brain metabolism was assessed using positron emission tomography (PET) and injection of fluoro-18-deoxyglucose (FDG). Depending on the exact location within the PFC, increased glucose metabolic rate was associated with lower or higher salivary cortisol concentration in response to a psychosocial stress condition. Metabolic glucose rate in the rostral medial PFC (mPFC) (Brodman area (BA) 9 and BA 10) was negatively associated with stress-induced salivary cortisol increases. Furthermore, metabolic glucose rate in these regions was inversely coupled with changes in glucose metabolic rate in other areas, known to be involved in HPA axis regulation such as the amygdala/hippocampal region. In contrast, metabolic glucose rate in areas more lateral to the mPFC was positively associated with saliva cortisol. Subjective ratings on task stressfulness, task controllability and self-reported dispositional mood states also showed positive and negative associations with the glucose metabolic rate in prefrontal regions. These findings suggest that in humans, the PFC is activated in response to psychosocial stress and distinct prefrontal metabolic glucose patterns are linked to endocrine stress measures as well as subjective ratings on task stressfulness, controllability as well as dispositional mood states.
Project description:Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system activation is adaptive in response to stress, and HPA dysregulation occurs in stress-related psychopathology. It is important to understand the mechanisms that modulate HPA output, yet few studies have addressed the neural circuitry associated with HPA regulation in primates and humans. Using high-resolution F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in rhesus monkeys, we assessed the relation between individual differences in brain activity and HPA function across multiple contexts that varied in stressfulness.Using a logical AND conjunctions analysis, we assessed cortisol and brain metabolic activity with FDG-PET in 35 adolescent rhesus monkeys exposed to two threat and two home-cage conditions. To test the robustness of our findings, we used similar methods in an archival data set. In this data set, brain metabolic activity and cortisol were assessed in 17 adolescent male rhesus monkeys that were exposed to three stress-related contexts.Results from the two studies revealed that subgenual prefrontal cortex (PFC) metabolism (Brodmann's area 25/24) consistently predicted individual differences in plasma cortisol concentrations regardless of the context in which brain activity and cortisol were assessed.These findings suggest that activation in subgenual PFC may be related to HPA output across a variety of contexts (including familiar settings and novel or threatening situations). Individuals prone to elevated subgenual PFC activity across multiple contexts may be individuals who consistently show heightened cortisol and may be at risk for stress-related HPA dysregulation.
Project description:Background:Childhood maltreatment is a strong risk factor for the development of depression in later life. However, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this vulnerability are not well understood. As depression has been associated with dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and increased responsiveness to psychosocial stressors, we speculated that childhood maltreatment may lead to lasting alteration of the stress response system, thereby increasing the risk of depression. This study investigated the effects of childhood maltreatment on the stress response in healthy subjects while controlling for psychiatric condition. Methods:Forty-eight healthy young adults (24 females) with childhood maltreatment experience and 48 healthy controls (33 females) without such experience were administered the Montreal Imaging Stress Task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Childhood maltreatment experience was assessed using the 28-item Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Between-group differences in subjective stress levels, whole brain activations and cortisol levels were assessed. Results:Relative to healthy control subjects, individuals exposed to childhood maltreatment exhibited higher subjective stress and cortisol levels. Neurofunctionally, participants with histories of childhood maltreatment displayed significantly increased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), insula and precuneus, and decreased activation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) relative to healthy controls during the psychosocial stress task. Activations in dlPFC and insula correlated with CTQ scores in the childhood maltreatment group. Conclusion:The results of this study show that childhood maltreatment induces lasting changes in brain function and HPA-axis responsiveness to stress. The observed abnormal activation in the dlPFC, insula and vmPFC and enhanced cortisol response are similar to those seen in individuals with depression. This dysfunction might serve as a diathesis that embeds latent vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, and this mechanism provides evidence supporting the stress sensitization model.
Project description:In clinic studies, altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function has been associated with fibromyalgia, a syndrome characterised by chronic widespread body pain. These results may be explained by the associated high rates of psychological distress and somatisation. We address the hypothesis that the latter, rather than the pain, might explain the HPA results. A population study ascertained pain and psychological status in subjects aged 25 to 65 years. Random samples were selected from the following three groups: satisfying criteria for chronic widespread pain; free of chronic widespread pain but with strong evidence of somatisation ('at risk'); and a reference group. HPA axis function was assessed from measuring early morning and evening salivary cortisol levels, and serum cortisol after physical (pain pressure threshold exam) and chemical (overnight 0.25 mg dexamethasone suppression test) stressors. The relationship between HPA function with pain and the various psychosocial scales assessed was modelled using appropriate regression analyses, adjusted for age and gender. In all 131 persons with chronic widespread pain (participation rate 74%), 267 'at risk' (58%) and 56 controls (70%) were studied. Those in the chronic widespread pain and 'at risk' groups were, respectively, 3.1 (95% CI (1.3, 7.3)) and 1.8 (0.8, 4.0) times more likely to have a saliva cortisol score in the lowest third. None of the psychosocial factors measured were, however, associated with saliva cortisol scores. Further, those in the chronic widespread pain (1.9 (0.8, 4.7)) and 'at risk' (1.6 (0.7, 3.6)) groups were also more likely to have the highest serum cortisol scores. High post-stress serum cortisol was related to high levels of psychological distress (p = 0.05, 95% CI (0.02, 0.08)). After adjusting for levels of psychological distress, the association between chronic widespread pain and post-stress cortisol scores remained, albeit slightly attenuated. This is the first population study to demonstrate that those with established, and those psychologically at risk of, chronic widespread pain demonstrate abnormalities of HPA axis function, which are more marked in the former group. Although some aspects of the altered function are related to the psychosocial factors measured, we conclude that the occurrence of HPA abnormality in persons with chronic widespread pain is not fully explained by the accompanying psychological stress.
Project description:There is ample evidence that the inhibitory GABA and the excitatory glutamate system are essential for an adequate response to stress. Both GABAergic and glutamatergic brain circuits modulate hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis activity, and stress in turn affects glutamate and GABA levels in the rodent brain. However, studies examining stress-induced GABA and glutamate levels in the human brain are scarce. Therefore, we investigated the influence of acute psychosocial stress (using the Trier Social Stress Test) on glutamate and GABA levels in the medial prefrontal cortex of 29 healthy male individuals using 7 Tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. <i>In vivo</i> GABA and glutamate levels were measured before and 30 min after exposure to either the stress or the control condition. We found no associations between psychosocial stress or cortisol stress reactivity and changes over time in medial prefrontal glutamate and GABA levels. GABA and glutamate levels over time were significantly correlated in the control condition but not in the stress condition, suggesting that very subtle differential effects of stress on GABA and glutamate across individuals may occur. However, overall, acute psychosocial stress does not appear to affect <i>in vivo</i> medial prefrontal GABA and glutamate levels, at least this is not detectable with current practice <sup>1</sup>H-MRS.
Project description:The purpose of this study was to investigate prefrontal cortex (PFC) volumes in youth with posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and explore the relationship between cortisol secretion and PFC volumes.Total brain tissue volumes, segmented areas of the PFC, and diurnal cortisol secretion were examined in a sample of 33 youth aged 10 to 16 years. Cerebral volumes were available for 45 subjects (30 PTSS and 15 control subjects).Youth with PTSS had significantly decreased total brain tissue and total cerebral gray volumes in comparison with healthy control subjects. While controlling for total cerebral gray volume, the PTSS group demonstrated decreased left ventral and left inferior prefrontal gray volumes. A significant negative association was found between prebedtime cortisol levels and left ventral PFC gray volumes for the full sample.Findings suggest associations between posttraumatic stress and PFC neurodevelopment. Findings also suggest a link between PFC development and cortisol secretion.
Project description:Stress elicits a variety of psychophysiological responses that show large interindividual variability. Determining the neural mechanisms that mediate individual differences in the emotional response to stress would provide new insight that would have important implications for understanding stress-related disorders. Therefore, the present study examined individual differences in the relationship between brain activity and the emotional response to stress. In the largest stress study to date, 239 participants completed the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST) while heart rate, skin conductance response (SCR), cortisol, self-reported stress, and blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) signal responses were measured. The relationship between differential responses (heart rate, SCR, cortisol, and self-reported stress) and differential BOLD fMRI data was analyzed. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsomedial PFC, ventromedial PFC, and amygdala activity varied with the behavioral response (i.e., SCR and self-reported stress). These results suggest the PFC and amygdala support processes that are important for the expression and regulation of the emotional response to stress, and that stress-related PFC and amygdala activity underlie interindividual variability in peripheral physiologic measures of the stress response. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Do physical and psychosocial stressors interact to increase stress in ways not explainable by the stressors alone? A preliminary study compared participants' stress response while subjected to a physical stressor (reduced or full physical load) and a predetermined social stressor (confronted by calm or aggressive behavior). Salivary cortisol samples measured endocrine stress. Heart rate variability (HRV) and electrodermal activity (EDA) measured autonomic stress. Perceived stress was measured via discomfort and stress state surveys. Participants with a heavier load reported increased distress and discomfort. Encountering an aggressive individual increased endocrine stress, distress levels, and perceived discomfort. Higher autonomic stress and discomfort were found in participants with heavier physical load and aggressive individuals. The results suggest a relationship where physical load increases the stressfulness of aggressive behavior in ways not explainable by the effects of the stressors alone. Future research is needed to confirm this investigation's findings.
Project description:Early life stress (ELS) and function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis predict later psychopathology. Animal studies and cross-sectional human studies suggest that this process might operate through amygdala-ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) circuitry implicated in the regulation of emotion. Here we prospectively investigated the roles of ELS and childhood basal cortisol amounts in the development of adolescent resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC), assessed by functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI), in the amygdala-PFC circuit. In females only, greater ELS predicted increased childhood cortisol levels, which predicted decreased amygdala-vmPFC rs-FC 14 years later. For females, adolescent amygdala-vmPFC functional connectivity was inversely correlated with concurrent anxiety symptoms but positively associated with depressive symptoms, suggesting differing pathways from childhood cortisol levels function through adolescent amygdala-vmPFC functional connectivity to anxiety and depression. These data highlight that, for females, the effects of ELS and early HPA-axis function may be detected much later in the intrinsic processing of emotion-related brain circuits.
Project description:Contemporary theory suggests that prefrontal cortex (PFC) function is associated with individual variability in the psychobiology of the stress response. Advancing our understanding of this complex biobehavioral pathway has potential to provide insight into processes that determine individual differences in stress susceptibility. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activity during a variation of the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST) in 53 young adults. Salivary cortisol was assessed as an index of the stress response, trait anxiety was assessed as an index of an individual's disposition toward negative affectivity, and self-reported stress was assessed as an index of an individual's subjective psychological experience. Heart rate and skin conductance responses were also assessed as additional measures of physiological reactivity. Dorsomedial PFC, dorsolateral PFC, and inferior parietal lobule demonstrated differential activity during the MIST. Further, differences in salivary cortisol reactivity to the MIST were associated with ventromedial PFC and posterior cingulate activity, while trait anxiety and self-reported stress were associated with dorsomedial and ventromedial PFC activity, respectively. These findings underscore that PFC activity regulates behavioral and psychobiological components of the stress response.
Project description:Exposure to psychosocial stressors increases consumption of palatable, calorically dense diets (CDD) and the risk for obesity, especially in females. While consumption of an obesogenic diet and chronic stress have both been shown to decrease dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) binding and alter functional connectivity (FC) within the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), it remains uncertain how social experience and dietary environment interact to affect reward pathways critical for the regulation of motivated behavior. Using positron emission tomography (PET) and resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance neuroimaging (rs-fMRI), in female rhesus monkeys maintained in a low calorie chow (n?=?18) or a dietary choice condition (chow and a CDD; n?=?16) for 12 months, the current study tested the overarching hypothesis that the adverse social experience resulting from subordinate social status would interact with consumption of an obesogenic diet to increase caloric intake that would be predicted by greater cortisol, lower prefrontal D2R binding potential (D2R-BP) and lower PFC-NAcc FC. Results showed that the consequences of adverse social experience imposed by chronic social subordination vary significantly depending on the dietary environment and are associated with alterations in prefrontal D2R-BP and FC in NAcc-PFC sub-regions that predict differences in caloric intake, body weight gain, and fat accumulation. Higher levels of cortisol in the chow-only condition were associated with mild inappetence, as well as increased orbitofrontal (OFC) D2R-BP and greater FC between the NAcc and the dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC) and ventromedial PFC (vmPFC). However, increased cortisol release in females in the dietary choice condition was associated with reduced prefrontal D2R-BP, and opposite FC between the NAcc and the vmPFC and dlPFC observed in the chow-only females. Importantly, the degree of these glucocorticoid-related neuroadaptations predicted significantly more total calorie intake as well as more consumption of the CDD for females having a dietary choice, but had no relation to calorie intake in the chow-only condition. Overall, the current findings suggest that dietary environment modifies the consequences of adverse social experience on reward pathways and appetite regulation and, in an obesogenic dietary environment, may reflect impaired cognitive control of food intake.