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Decreased functional connectivity of hippocampal subregions and methylation of the NR3C1 gene in Han Chinese adults who lost their only child

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2020

Rongfeng Qi
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Imaging, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210002, China Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, CA, 90292, USA
Yifeng Luo
Affiliation:
Department of Radiology, The Affiliated Yixing Hospital of Jiangsu University, Wuxi, 75 Tongzhenguan Road, 214200, Wuxi, China
Li Zhang
Affiliation:
Mental Health Institute, the Second Xiangya Hospital, National Technology Institute of Psychiatry, Key Laboratory of Psychiatry and Mental Health of Hunan Province, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410011, China
Yifei Weng
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Imaging, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210002, China
Wesley Surento
Affiliation:
Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, CA, 90292, USA
Qiang Xu
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Imaging, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210002, China
Neda Jahanshad
Affiliation:
Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, CA, 90292, USA
Lingjiang Li
Affiliation:
Mental Health Institute, the Second Xiangya Hospital, National Technology Institute of Psychiatry, Key Laboratory of Psychiatry and Mental Health of Hunan Province, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410011, China
Zhihong Cao*
Affiliation:
Department of Radiology, The Affiliated Yixing Hospital of Jiangsu University, Wuxi, 75 Tongzhenguan Road, 214200, Wuxi, China
Guang Ming Lu*
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Imaging, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210002, China
Paul M. Thompson
Affiliation:
Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, CA, 90292, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Guangming Lu, E-mail: cjr.luguangming@vip.163.com; Zhihong Cao, E-mail: staff877@yxph.com
Author for correspondence: Guangming Lu, E-mail: cjr.luguangming@vip.163.com; Zhihong Cao, E-mail: staff877@yxph.com

Abstract

Background

Losing one's only child is a major traumatic life event that may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, the underlying mechanisms of its psychological consequences remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated subregional hippocampal functional connectivity (FC) networks based on resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and the deoxyribonucleic acid methylation of the human glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) in adults who had lost their only child.

Methods

A total of 144 Han Chinese adults who had lost their only child (51 adults with PTSD and 93 non-PTSD adults [trauma-exposed controls]) and 50 controls without trauma exposure were included in this fMRI study (age: 40–67 years). FCs between hippocampal subdivisions (four regions in each hemisphere: cornu ammonis1 [CA1], CA2, CA3, and dentate gyrus [DG]) and methylation levels of the NR3C1 gene were compared among the three groups.

Results

Trauma-exposed adults, regardless of PTSD diagnosis, had weaker positive FC between the left hippocampal CA1, left DG, and the posterior cingulate cortex, and weaker negative FC between the right CA1, right DG, and several frontal gyri, relative to healthy controls. Compared to non-PTSD adults, PTSD adults showed decreased negative FC between the right CA1 region and the right middle/inferior frontal gyri (MFG/IFG), and decreased negative FC between the right DG and the right superior frontal gyrus and left MFG. Both trauma-exposed groups showed lower methylation levels of the NR3C1 gene.

Conclusions

Adults who had lost their only child may experience disrupted hippocampal network connectivity and NR3C1 methylation status, regardless of whether they have developed PTSD.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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Footnotes

*

Rongfeng Qi and Yifeng Luo contributed equally to this work.

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