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


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.

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.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive Neuroscience, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:23 August 2019
Deposited On:05 Nov 2019 15:31
Last Modified:05 Nov 2019 15:31
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz167
Project Information:
  • : FunderDFG
  • : Grant IDHO 5674/2-1
  • : Project TitleExploring the long-term impact of early life adversity on the (anti-)social brain
  • : FunderDFG
  • : Grant IDGRK2350
  • : Project Title

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