Background: The hippocampus and cingulate gyrus are strongly interconnected brain regions that have been implicated in the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These brain structures are comprised of functionally distinct subregions that may contribute to the expression of PTSD symptoms or associated cardio-metabolic markers, but have not been well investigated in prior studies. Methods: Two divisions of the cingulate cortex (i.e., rostral and caudal) and 11 hippocampal subregions were investigated in 22 male combat-exposed veterans with PTSD and 22 male trauma-exposed veteran controls (TC). Cardio-metabolic measures included cholesterol, body mass index, and mean arterial pressure. Results: Individuals with PTSD had less caudal cingulate area compared to TC even after controlling for caudal cingulate thickness. Total hippocampus volume was lower in PTSD compared to TC, accounted for by differences in CA1-CA4, granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus, molecular layer, and subiculum. Individuals with PTSD had higher mean arterial pressure compared to TC, which correlated with hippocampus volume only in the PTSD group. Limitations: Sample size, cross-sectional analysis, no control for medications and findings limited to males. Conclusions: These data demonstrate preferential involvement of caudal cingulate area (vs. thickness) and hippocampus subregions in PTSD. The inverse association between hippocampus volume and mean arterial pressure may contribute to accelerated aging known to be associated with PTSD.
- Cingulate cortex
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Mean arterial pressure
- Post-traumatic stress disorder