Cortical volume abnormalities in posttraumatic stress disorder: an ENIGMA-psychiatric genomics consortium PTSD workgroup mega-analysis

Xin Wang, Hong Xie, Tian Chen, Andrew S. Cotton, Lauren E. Salminen, Mark W. Logue, Emily K. Clarke-Rubright, John Wall, Emily L. Dennis, Brian M. O’Leary, Chadi G. Abdallah, Elpiniki Andrew, Lee A. Baugh, Jessica Bomyea, Steven E. Bruce, Richard Bryant, Kyle Choi, Judith K. Daniels, Nicholas D. Davenport, Richard J. DavidsonMichael DeBellis, Terri deRoon-Cassini, Seth G. Disner, Negar Fani, Kelene A. Fercho, Jacklynn Fitzgerald, Gina L. Forster, Jessie L. Frijling, Elbert Geuze, Hassaan Gomaa, Evan M. Gordon, Dan Grupe, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem, Courtney C. Haswell, Julia I. Herzog, David Hofmann, Michael Hollifield, Bobak Hosseini, Anna R. Hudson, Jonathan Ipser, Neda Jahanshad, Tanja Jovanovic, Milissa L. Kaufman, Anthony P. King, Saskia B.J. Koch, Inga K. Koerte, Mayuresh S. Korgaonkar, John H. Krystal, Christine Larson, Lauren A.M. Lebois, Ifat Levy, Gen Li, Vincent A. Magnotta, Antje Manthey, Geoffrey May, Katie A. McLaughlin, Sven C. Mueller, Laura Nawijn, Steven M. Nelson, Yuval Neria, Jack B. Nitschke, Miranda Olff, Elizabeth A. Olson, Matthew Peverill, K. Luan Phan, Faisal M. Rashid, Kerry Ressler, Isabelle M. Rosso, Kelly Sambrook, Christian Schmahl, Martha E. Shenton, Anika Sierk, Jeffrey S. Simons, Raluca M. Simons, Scott R. Sponheim, Murray B. Stein, Dan J. Stein, Jennifer S. Stevens, Thomas Straube, Benjamin Suarez-Jimenez, Marijo Tamburrino, Sophia I. Thomopoulos, Nic J.A. van der Wee, Steven J.A. van der Werff, Theo G.M. van Erp, Sanne J.H. van Rooij, Mirjam van Zuiden, Tim Varkevisser, Dick J. Veltman, Robert R.J.M. Vermeiren, Henrik Walter, Li Wang, Ye Zhu, Xi Zhu, Paul M. Thompson, Rajendra A. Morey, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report volume abnormalities in multiple regions of the cerebral cortex. However, findings for many regions, particularly regions outside commonly studied emotion-related prefrontal, insular, and limbic regions, are inconsistent and tentative. Also, few studies address the possibility that PTSD abnormalities may be confounded by comorbid depression. A mega-analysis investigating all cortical regions in a large sample of PTSD and control subjects can potentially provide new insight into these issues. Given this perspective, our group aggregated regional volumes data of 68 cortical regions across both hemispheres from 1379 PTSD patients to 2192 controls without PTSD after data were processed by 32 international laboratories using ENIGMA standardized procedures. We examined whether regional cortical volumes were different in PTSD vs. controls, were associated with posttraumatic stress symptom (PTSS) severity, or were affected by comorbid depression. Volumes of left and right lateral orbitofrontal gyri (LOFG), left superior temporal gyrus, and right insular, lingual and superior parietal gyri were significantly smaller, on average, in PTSD patients than controls (standardized coefficients = −0.111 to −0.068, FDR corrected P values < 0.039) and were significantly negatively correlated with PTSS severity. After adjusting for depression symptoms, the PTSD findings in left and right LOFG remained significant. These findings indicate that cortical volumes in PTSD patients are smaller in prefrontal regulatory regions, as well as in broader emotion and sensory processing cortical regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4331-4343
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


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