Presentation Abstract

Program#/Poster#: 691.12/WW19
Presentation Title: Childhood physical abuse correlates with adulthood hypothalamic and limbic forebrain activity and connectivity in response to psychological stress
Location: Hall F-J
Presentation time: Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Psychiatry, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Abstract: Early life experience differentially shapes later stress reactivity, as evidenced by studies in both animals and humans. However, early experience-related changes in the structure and function of neural circuits that control stress responses have not been well characterized, particularly in humans. The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) is critical in integrating autonomic and neuroendocrine stress responses. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), modulate PVN activity and are themselves preautonomic structures. Thus, these hypothalamic and limbic forebrain regions form a core stress-responsive circuit. Postnatal maternal separation in rat models alters the later structure and stress-induced activation of these circuits, providing evidence that they can be influenced by early experience (Banihashemi et al. 2011, Nrosci 192:413). The goal of the present study is to translate such findings from animals to humans using neuroimaging. Here we examine how physical abuse in childhood relates to adulthood stressor-evoked activity within homologous brain regions. Participants were 155 mentally and physically healthy adults (30-50 yrs, 77 women). To evoke acute states of mental stress, participants engaged in fMRI-adapted versions of the multi-source interference (MSIT) and Stroop tasks with performance titration to ~50% accuracy and simultaneous monitoring of mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate. Changes in brain activation were assessed between incongruent (stress-inducing) and congruent task conditions. Participants also completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, providing a measure of childhood physical abuse. Analyses included multiple regressions controlling for several covariates, including age, gender, and childhood socioeconomic position. Childhood physical abuse correlated positively with stressor-evoked changes in MAP from baseline to the incongruent condition (B=0.59, p=0.03), and negatively with unbiased, a priori extractions of fMRI BOLD signal change values within the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC), BNST, CeA, and PVN (B: -0.06 to -0.04, p: 0.001 to 0.01). Moreover, psychophysiologic interaction (PPI) analyses revealed a correlation between physical abuse and stressor-evoked BNST-PVN functional connectivity (p=0.01). Thus, childhood physical abuse is a predictor of adulthood stressor-evoked activity within hypothalamic and limbic forebrain regions, which may mediate altered cardiovascular reactivity and vulnerability to physical and mental health outcomes.
Disclosures:  L. Banihashemi: None. L.K. Sheu: None. P.J. Gianaros: None.
Keyword(s): STRESS
Support: NIH Grant F32 HL104770-01A1
NIH Grant 2R01HL089850-05
[Authors]. [Abstract Title]. Program No. XXX.XX. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.

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