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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 11;8(6):e64065. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064065. Print 2013.

Long-term occupational stress is associated with regional reductions in brain tissue volumes.

Author information

1
Stockholm Brain Institute, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Division of Pediatric Neurology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

There are increasing reports of cognitive and psychological declines related to occupational stress in subjects without psychiatric premorbidity or major life trauma. The underlying neurobiology is unknown, and many question the notion that the described disabilities represent a medical condition. Using PET we recently found that persons suffering from chronic occupational stress had limbic reductions in the 5-HT1A receptor binding potential. Here we examine whether chronic work-related stress is also associated with changes in brain structure. We performed MRI-based voxel-based morphometry and structural volumetry in stressed subjects and unstressed controls focusing on gray (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes, and the volumes of hippocampus, caudate, and putamen - structures known to be susceptible to neurotoxic changes. Stressed subjects exhibited significant reductions in the GM volumes of the anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, their caudate and putamen volumes were reduced, and the volumes correlated inversely to the degree of perceived stress. Our results add to previous data on chronic psychosocial stress, and indicate a morphological involvement of the frontostriatal circuits. The present findings of morphological changes in these regions confirm our previous conclusion that symptoms from occupational stress merit careful investigations and targeted treatment.

PMID:
23776438
PMCID:
PMC3679112
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0064065
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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