Neuroanatomical Risk Factors for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Recent Trauma Survivors. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Low hippocampal volume could serve as an early risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in interaction with other brain anomalies of developmental origin. One such anomaly may well be the presence of a large cavum septum pellucidum (CSP), which has been loosely associated with PTSD. We performed a longitudinal prospective study of recent trauma survivors. We hypothesized that at 1 month after trauma exposure the relation between hippocampal volume and PTSD symptom severity will be moderated by CSP volume, and that this early interaction will account for persistent PTSD symptoms at subsequent time points. METHODS: One hundred seventy-one adults (87 women, average age 34.22 years [range, 18-65 years of age]) who were admitted to a general hospital's emergency department after a traumatic event underwent clinical assessment and structural magnetic resonance imaging within 1 month after trauma. Follow-up clinical evaluations were conducted at 6 (n= 97) and 14 (n= 78) months after trauma. Hippocampal and CSP volumes were measured automatically by FreeSurfer software and verified manually by a neuroradiologist (D.N.). RESULTS: At 1 month after trauma, CSP volume significantly moderated the relation between hippocampal volume and PTSD severity (p= .026), and this interaction further predicted symptom severity at 14 months posttrauma (p=.018). Specifically, individuals with a smaller hippocampus and larger CSP at 1 month posttrauma showed more severe symptoms at 1 and 14 months after trauma exposure. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides evidence for an early neuroanatomical risk factors for PTSD, which could also predict the progression of the disorder in the year after trauma exposure. Such a simple-to-acquire neuroanatomical signature for PTSD could guide early management as well as long-term monitoring.

published proceedings

  • Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging

altmetric score

  • 2.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Ben-Zion, Z., Artzi, M., Niry, D., Keynan, N. J., Zeevi, Y., Admon, R., ... Hendler, T.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Ben-Zion, Ziv||Artzi, Moran||Niry, Dana||Keynan, Nimrod Jackob||Zeevi, Yoav||Admon, Roee||Sharon, Haggai||Halpern, Pinchas||Liberzon, Israel||Shalev, Arieh Y||Hendler, Talma

publication date

  • March 2020