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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Sep 1;56(5):356-63.

Smaller hippocampal volume in Dutch police officers with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Centre for Psychological Trauma, Department of Psychiatry de Bascule, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Previous magnetic resonance imaging studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have reported smaller hippocampal volume, especially in war and sexual abuse victims. Our aim was to assess hippocampal volume in traumatized police officers with and without PTSD in the absence of alcohol abuse and moderate to severe major depression.


In a case-matched control study, 14 police officers with current PTSD and 14 traumatized police officers without lifetime PTSD were examined using magnetic resonance imaging. Three temporal lobe areas were manually segmented: hippocampus, amygdala, and parahippocampal gyrus. Volumetric analysis was used to measure gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid.


After controlling for total brain volume, the hippocampal volume in the PTSD group was significantly smaller in comparison with the traumatized control group (total 10.6%; left 12.6%). Volumes of amygdala, parahippocampal gyrus, gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid were not significantly altered. A significant negative correlation was found between reexperiencing symptoms and hippocampal volume in the PTSD group.


We confirmed previous findings of smaller hippocampal volume in PTSD in a new population made up of police officers, excluding comorbidity as a confounder. The finding of smaller hippocampal volume was specific to PTSD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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