Meta-analysis of associations between childhood adversity and hippocampus and amygdala volume in non-clinical and general population samples.
ABSTRACT: Studies of psychiatric populations have reported associations between childhood adversity and volumes of stress-related brain structures. This meta-analysis investigated these associations in non-clinical samples and therefore independent of the effects of severe mental health difficulties and their treatment.The MEDLINE database was searched for magnetic resonance imaging studies measuring brain structure in adults with and without childhood adversity. Fifteen eligible papers (1781 participants) reporting hippocampal volumes and/or amygdala volumes were pooled using a random effects meta-analysis.Those with childhood adversity had lower hippocampus volumes (hedges g = - 0.15, p = 0.010). Controlling for gender, this difference became less evident (hedges g = - 0.12, p = 0.124). This association differed depending on whether studies included participants with some psychopathology, though this may be due to differences in the type of adversity these studies examined. There was no strong evidence of any differences in amygdala volume.Childhood adversity may have only a modest impact on stress-related brain structures in those without significant mental health difficulties.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Trait anger, or the dispositional tendency to experience a wide range of situations as annoying or frustrating, is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. The experience of adversity during childhood is one risk factor for the later emergence of high trait anger. This association has been hypothesized to reflect alterations in neural circuits supporting bottom-up threat processing and top-down executive control. METHODS:Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging and self-report questionnaire data from 220 volunteers, we examined how individual differences in top-down prefrontal executive control and bottom-up amygdala threat activity modulate the association between childhood adversity and trait anger during young adulthood. RESULTS:We report that the association between childhood adversity and trait anger is attenuated specifically in young adults who have both relatively low threat-related amygdala activity and high executive control-related dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity. CONCLUSIONS:These brain activity patterns suggest that simultaneous consideration of their underlying cognitive processes-namely, threat processing and executive control-may be useful in strategies designed to mitigate the negative mental health consequences of childhood adversity.
Project description:Although decades of research have shown associations between early caregiving adversity, stress physiology and limbic brain volume (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus), the developmental trajectories of these phenotypes are not well characterized. In the current study, we used an accelerated longitudinal design to assess the development of stress physiology, amygdala, and hippocampal volume following early institutional care. Previously Institutionalized (PI; N?=?93) and comparison (COMP; N?=?161) youth (ages 4-20 years old) completed 1-3 waves of data collection, each spaced approximately 2?years apart, for diurnal cortisol (N?=?239) and structural MRI (N?=?156). We observed a developmental shift in morning cortisol in the PI group, with blunted levels in childhood and heightened levels in late adolescence. PI history was associated with reduced hippocampal volume and reduced growth rate of the amygdala, resulting in smaller volumes by adolescence. Amygdala and hippocampal volumes were also prospectively associated with future morning cortisol in both groups. These results indicate that adversity-related physiological and neural phenotypes are not stationary during development but instead exhibit dynamic and interdependent changes from early childhood to early adulthood.
Project description:Childhood adversity plays an important role for development of major depressive disorder (MDD). There are differences in subcortical brain structures between patients with MDD and healthy controls, but the specific impact of childhood adversity on such structures in MDD remains unclear. Thus, aim of the present study was to investigate whether childhood adversity is associated with subcortical volumes and how it interacts with a diagnosis of MDD and sex. Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, nine university partner sites, which assessed childhood adversity and magnetic resonance imaging in patients with MDD and controls, took part in the current joint mega-analysis. In this largest effort world-wide to identify subcortical brain structure differences related to childhood adversity, 3036 participants were analyzed for subcortical brain volumes using FreeSurfer. A significant interaction was evident between childhood adversity, MDD diagnosis, sex, and region. Increased exposure to childhood adversity was associated with smaller caudate volumes in females independent of MDD. All subcategories of childhood adversity were negatively associated with caudate volumes in females - in particular emotional neglect and physical neglect (independently from age, ICV, imaging site and MDD diagnosis). There was no interaction effect between childhood adversity and MDD diagnosis on subcortical brain volumes. Childhood adversity is one of the contributors to brain structural abnormalities. It is associated with subcortical brain abnormalities that are relevant to psychiatric disorders such as depression.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Much research has focused on the deleterious neurobiological effects of childhood adversity that may underlie internalizing disorders. While most youth show emotional adaptation following adversity, the corresponding neural mechanisms remain poorly understood. METHODS:In this longitudinal community study, we examined the associations among childhood family adversity, adolescent internalizing symptoms, and their interaction on regional brain activation and amygdala/hippocampus functional connectivity during emotion processing in 132 adolescents. RESULTS:Consistent with prior work, childhood adversity predicted heightened amygdala reactivity to negative, but not positive, images in adolescence. However, amygdala reactivity was not related to internalizing symptoms. Furthermore, childhood adversity predicted increased fronto-amygdala connectivity to negative, but not positive, images, yet only in lower internalizing adolescents. Childhood adversity also predicted increased fronto-hippocampal connectivity to negative images, but was not moderated by internalizing. These findings were unrelated to adolescence adversity or externalizing symptoms, suggesting specificity to childhood adversity and adolescent internalizing. CONCLUSIONS:Together, these findings suggest that adaptation to childhood adversity is associated with augmentation of fronto-subcortical circuits specifically for negative emotional stimuli. Conversely, insufficient enhancement of fronto-amygdala connectivity, with increasing amygdala reactivity, may represent a neural signature of vulnerability for internalizing by late adolescence. These findings implicate early childhood as a critical period in determining the brain's adaptation to adversity, and suggest that even normative adverse experiences can have significant impact on neurodevelopment and functioning. These results offer potential neural mechanisms of adaptation and vulnerability which could be used in the prediction of risk for psychopathology following childhood adversity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Stressful life events are more likely to trigger depression among individuals exposed to childhood adversity. However, the mechanisms underlying this stress sensitization remain largely unknown. Any such mechanism must be altered by childhood adversity and interact with recent stressful life events, magnifying their association with depression. AIM:This study investigated whether reduced hippocampal and amygdala volume are potential mechanisms underlying stress sensitization following childhood violence exposure. METHOD:A sample of 149 youth (aged 8-17 years), with (N?=?75) and without (N?=?74) exposure to physical abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence participated. Participants completed a structural MRI scan and assessments of depression. Approximately 2 years later, stressful life events were assessed along with depression symptoms in 120 participants (57 violence exposed). RESULTS:Childhood violence exposure was associated with smaller hippocampal and amygdala volume. Stressful life events occurring during the follow-up period predicted worsening depression over time, and this association was magnified among those with smaller hippocampal and amygdala volumes. Significant moderated mediation models revealed the indirect effects of violence exposure on increasing depression over time through hippocampal and amygdala volumes, particularly among youths who experienced more stressful life events. CONCLUSIONS:These results provide evidence for reduced hippocampal and amygdala volume as potential mechanisms of stress sensitization to depression following exposure to violence. More broadly, these patterns suggest that hippocampal and amygdala-mediated emotional and cognitive processes may confer vulnerability to stressful life events among children who have experienced violence.
Project description:Identifying biological mechanisms through which the experience of adversity emerges as individual risk for mental illness is an important step toward developing strategies for personalized treatment and, ultimately, prevention. Preclinical studies have identified epigenetic modification of gene expression as one such mechanism. Recent clinical studies have suggested that epigenetic modification, particularly methylation of gene regulatory regions, also acts to shape human brain function associated with risk for mental illness. However, it is not yet clear whether differential gene methylation as a function of adversity contributes to the emergence of individual risk for mental illness. Using prospective longitudinal epigenetic, neuroimaging and behavioral data from 132 adolescents, we demonstrate that changes in gene methylation associated with lower socioeconomic status (SES) predict changes in risk-related brain function. Specifically, we find that lower SES during adolescence is associated with an increase in methylation of the proximal promoter of the serotonin transporter gene, which predicts greater increases in threat-related amygdala reactivity. We subsequently demonstrate that greater increases in amygdala reactivity moderate the association between a positive family history for depression and the later manifestation of depressive symptoms. These initial results suggest a specific biological mechanism through which adversity contributes to altered brain function, which in turn moderates the emergence of general liability as individual risk for mental illness. If replicated, this prospective pathway may represent a novel target biomarker for intervention and prevention among high-risk individuals.
Project description:Childhood stress and genetic factors like the Val66MET polymorphism of the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene are associated with a higher risk for developing major depressive disorder (MDD) and might also influence hippocampal changes. The aim of this study was to determine which hippocampal dentate gyrus and cornu ammonis subfields are altered in MDD compared to healthy controls and which subfields are affected by the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and child adversity. Adult patients with MDD and healthy matched controls underwent high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. Automatic segmentation using the programme FreeSurfer was used to segment the hippocampal subfields dentate gyrus (DG/CA4), CA1 and CA2/3. The history of possible childhood adversity was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and the Val66Met BDNF SNP (rs6265) genotypes were obtained. Patients with MDD had significantly smaller CA4/DG and CA2/3 volumes compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, there was a significant interactive effect of BDNF allele and childhood adversity on CA2/3 and CA4/DG volumes. Met allele carriers without childhood adversity had larger and with childhood adversity smaller CA4/DG and CA2/3 volumes than Val-allele homozygotes. Our results highlight stress by gene interactions as relevant for hippocampal volume reductions, in particular for the subfield CA2/3 and dentate gyrus.
Project description:Experiences of psychosocial neglect affect the developing brain and may place individuals at increased risk for anxiety. The majority of research in this area has focused on children who have experienced severe psychosocial deprivation; it is not clear whether typical variation in neglect experienced in community samples would have the same neurobiological consequences as those documented in extreme samples. The present study examined the associations among self-reported childhood neglect, amygdala volume, and anxiety symptoms in a community sample of 138 adolescents ages 9-15 years (43% male). Linear mixed modeling yielded a three-way interaction of neglect, sex, and brain hemisphere, reflecting a significant positive association between neglect and right amygdala volume in boys. Additional analyses indicated that right amygdala volume significantly mediated the association between neglect and anxiety symptoms in boys. These findings are consistent with previous reports of larger amygdala volumes in previously institutionalized children, and with documented associations between caregiving deprivation and anxiety symptoms. The results suggest that the effects of childhood neglect on limbic structures are sex-specific and lateralized, and provide support for a neural mechanism relating childhood neglect to later difficulties in emotional functioning.
Project description:A growing literature suggests that adversity is associated with later altered brain function, particularly within the corticolimbic system that supports emotion processing and salience detection (e.g., amygdala, prefrontal cortex [PFC]). Although neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage has been shown to predict maladaptive behavioral outcomes, particularly for boys, most of the research linking adversity to corticolimbic function has focused on family-level adversities. Moreover, although animal models and studies of normative brain development suggest that there may be sensitive periods during which adversity exerts stronger effects on corticolimbic development, little prospective evidence exists in humans. Using two low-income samples of boys (n = 167; n = 77), Census-derived neighborhood disadvantage during early childhood, but not adolescence, was uniquely associated with greater amygdala, but not PFC, reactivity to ambiguous neutral faces in adolescence and young adulthood. These associations remained after accounting for several family-level adversities (e.g., low family income, harsh parenting), highlighting the independent and developmentally specific neural effects of the neighborhood context. Furthermore, in both samples, indicators measuring income and poverty status of neighbors were predictive of amygdala function, suggesting that neighborhood economic resources may be critical to brain development.
Project description:<h4>Importance</h4>Few data are available to inform the associations and timing of the associations between adversity, caregiver support, and brain outcomes. Consideration of timing has important public health implications to inform more precise prevention strategies.<h4>Objective</h4>To evaluate the timing and regional specificity of the association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and caregiver support to structural development of limbic and striatal brain regions in middle childhood and adolescence.<h4>Design, setting, and participants</h4>This 15-year developmental, neuroimaging cohort study included 211 children and their caregivers screened from day care centers and preschools in the St Louis, Missouri, metropolitan area during the preschool period, with an additional 4 waves of neuroimaging at school age through adolescence from November 14, 2007, to August 29, 2017. The cohort was oversampled for preschoolers with elevated symptoms of depression using a brief screener. Data analysis was performed from March 19, 2019, to July 26, 2019.<h4>Main outcomes and measures</h4>Volumes in adolescence and developmental trajectories of volumes of the amygdala, hippocampus, caudate, subgenual cingulate, and insula during 4 waves of scanning; ACEs and observed caregiver support at preschool and school age; and volumes of amygdala, hippocampus, insula, and subgenual cingulate during 4 waves of scanning.<h4>Results</h4>A total of 211 children (107 [50.7%] male) completed at least 1 scan. At preschool (mean [SD] age, 5.5 [0.8] years), ACE data were available for 164 children (84 [51.2%] male) and maternal support data for 155 children; at school age (mean [SD], 8.3 [1.2] years), ACE data were available for 172 children and maternal support data for 146 children. Unique patterns of the association between ACEs and support were found, with an association between the interaction of preschool ACEs and school-age support and the development of the hippocampus (t?=?-2.27; P?=?.02) and amygdala (t?=?-2.12; P?=?.04). A buffering hypothesis was not confirmed because high caregiver support was more strongly associated with the development of these regions only in the context of low ACEs. In contrast, preschool ACEs (t?=?-2.30; P?=?.02) and support (t?=?2.59; P?=?.01) had independent associations with the development of the caudate.<h4>Conclusions and relevance</h4>The findings suggest that there are unique regional associations of support and adversity with key brain structures important for emotional regulation. Results may inform the timing and potential targets of preventive action for the range of poor developmental outcomes.