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Structural Connectivity of the Posterior Cingulum Is Related to Reexperiencing Symptoms in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.


ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heterogeneous disorder with disturbances in hyper-arousal or avoidance behaviors, and intrusive or re-experiencing thoughts. The uncinate fasciculus (UF) and cingulum bundle are white matter pathways implicated in stress and trauma pathophysiology, yet their structural integrity related to PTSD symptom domains is yet to be understood. Forty-four trauma-exposed young adults underwent structural and diffusion-weighted MRI. Stress and trauma exposure indices and severity of PTSD symptoms were collected and used to predict current integrity of the UF and cingulum bundle. Severity of re-experiencing PTSD symptoms was significantly related to increased fractional anisotropy (r=.469 p<.001) and decreased mean diffusivity (r=-.373, p=.013) of the right posterior cingulum bundle. No other findings emerged with respect to stress exposure or of hyper-arousal (p's>0.05) or avoidance (p's>0.2) PTSD symptoms. The posterior cingulum connects medial temporal lobe structures with visual areas in the occipital lobe and has been implicated in visual memory and self-referential thought. Increased structural connectivity along this pathway may therefore explain the emergence of re-experiencing PTSD symptoms. This along with the lack of results with respect to stress exposure suggests structural aberrations in white matter pathways are more strongly linked with the actual experience of stress-related psychological symptoms than just exposure to stress.

SUBMITTER: Weis CN 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6295657 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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