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Cereb Cortex. 2019 Aug 23. pii: bhz167. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz167. [Epub ahead of print]

The Long-Term Impact of Early Life Stress on Orbitofrontal Cortical Thickness.

Author information

1
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, J5, Mannheim 68159, Germany.
2
Department of Biostatistics, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, J5, Mannheim 68159, Germany.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, OT Golm, Potsdam 14476, Germany.
4
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, J5, Mannheim 68159, Germany.
5
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Neumünsterallee 9, Zurich 8032, Switzerland.
6
Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 190, Zurich 8057, Switzerland.
7
Neuroscience Center Zurich, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 190, Zurich 8057, Switzerland.

Abstract

Early adversity has been related to brain structure alterations and to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a key region for emotional processing, with structural alterations being described in several mental disorders. However, little is known about how its cortical thickness (CT) is affected by the long-term impact of life stress (LS) at different developmental stages. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of LS during infancy, childhood, and adolescence on CT alterations in the OFC and on psychopathology in 190 adults of an ongoing prospective cohort study. Chronic stressful life events were assessed in regular intervals. Participants rated depressive symptoms at the ages of 22 and 23 years. Morphometric data were collected at the participants' age of 25 years. Chronic LS during infancy was associated with reduced CT in the right OFC and increased depressive symptoms. Moreover, the impact of chronic LS during infancy on OFC thickness was partially mediated by depressive symptoms in adulthood, suggesting an interplay of early LS, psychopathology, and CT alterations. Our findings highlight the long-term impact of early LS on an affective core brain structure and psychopathology later in life.

KEYWORDS:

MDD; childhood adversity; cortical thickness; longitudinal; neuroimaging

PMID:
31504259
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bhz167

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