Article

Salivary cortisol and prefrontal cortical thickness in middle-aged men: A twin study.

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 02/2010; 53:1093-1102. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.02.026
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although glucocorticoid receptors are highly expressed in the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus remains the predominant focus in the literature examining relationships between cortisol and brain. We examined phenotypic and genetic associations of cortisol levels with the thickness of prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex regions, and with hippocampal volume in a sample of 388 middle-aged male twins who were 51-59 years old. Small but significant negative phenotypic associations were found between cortisol levels and the thickness of left dorsolateral (superior frontal gyrus, left rostral middle frontal gyrus) and ventrolateral (pars opercularis, pars triangularis, pars orbitalis) prefrontal regions, and right dorsolateral (superior frontal gyrus) and medial orbital frontal cortex. Most of the associations remained significant after adjusting for general cognitive ability, cardiovascular risk factors, and depression. Bivariate genetic analyses suggested that some of the associations were primarily accounted for by shared genetic influences; that is, some of the genes that tend to result in increased cortisol levels also tend to result in reduced prefrontal cortical thickness. Aging has been associated with reduced efficiency of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function, frontal lobe shrinkage, and increases in health problems, but our present data do not allow us to determine the direction of effects. Moreover, the degree or the direction of the observed associations and the extent of their shared genetic underpinnings may well change as these individuals age. Longitudinal assessments are underway to elucidate the direction of the associations and the genetic underpinnings of longitudinal phenotypes for changes in cortisol and brain morphology.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
174 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (measured via cortisol reactivity) may be a biological marker of risk for depression and anxiety, possibly even early in development. However, the structural neural correlates of early cortisol reactivity are not well known, although these would potentially inform broader models of mechanisms of risk, especially if the early environment further shapes these relationships. Therefore, we examined links between white matter architecture and young girls’ cortisol reactivity, and whether early caregiving moderated these links. We recruited 45 6-year-old girls based on whether they had previously shown high or low cortisol reactivity to a stress task at age 3. White matter integrity was assessed by calculating fractional anisotropy (FA) of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans. Parenting styles were measured via a standardized parent–child interaction task. Significant associations were found between FA in white matter regions adjacent to the left thalamus, right anterior cingulate cortex, and the right superior frontal gyrus (all ps < .001). Further, positive early caregiving moderated the effect of high cortisol reactivity on white matter FA (all ps ≤ .05), with high stress reactive girls who received greater parent positive affect showing white matter structure more similar to that of low stress reactive girls. Results show associations between white matter integrity of various limbic regions of the brain and early cortisol reactivity to stress, and provide preliminary support for the notion that parenting may moderate associations.
    NeuroImage: Clinical. 01/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Elevated glucocorticoid (GC) levels are hypothesized to be deleterious to some brain regions, including white matter (WM). Older age is accompanied by increased between-participant variation in GC levels, yet relationships between WM integrity and cortisol levels in older humans are underexplored. Moreover, it is unclear whether GC-WM associations might be general or pathway specific. We analyzed relationships between salivary cortisol (diurnal and reactive) and general measures of brain WM hyperintensity (WMH) volume, fractional anisotropy (gFA), and mean diffusivity (gMD) in 90 males, aged 73 years. Significant associations were predominantly found between cortisol measures and WMHs and gMD but not gFA. Higher cortisol at the start of a mild cognitive stressor was associated with higher WMH and gMD. Higher cortisol at the end was associated with greater WMHs. A constant or increasing cortisol level during cognitive testing was associated with lower gMD. Tract-specific bases of these associations implicated anterior thalamic radiation, uncinate, and arcuate and inferior longitudinal fasciculi. The cognitive sequelae of these relationships, above other covariates, are a priority for future study.
    Neurobiology of Aging 06/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Theory of mind (ToM)-or thinking about the mental states of others-is a cornerstone of successful everyday social interaction. However, the brain bases of ToM are most frequently measured via explicit laboratory tasks that pose direct questions about mental states (e.g., "In this story, what does Steve think Julia believes?"). Neuroanatomical measures may provide a way to explore the brain bases of individual differences in more naturalistic, everyday mentalizing. In the current study, we examined the relation between cortical thickness and spontaneous ToM using the novel Spontaneous Theory of Mind Protocol (STOMP), which measures participants' spontaneous descriptions of the beliefs, emotions, and goals of characters in naturalistic videos. We administered standard ToM tasks and the STOMP to young adults (aged 18-26 years) and collected structural MRI data from a subset of these participants. The STOMP produced robust individual variability and was correlated with performance on traditional ToM tasks. Further, unlike the traditional ToM tasks, STOMP performance was related to cortical thickness for a set of brain regions that have been functionally linked to ToM processing. These findings offer novel insight into the brain bases of variability in naturalistic mentalizing performance, with implications for both typical and atypical populations.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 05/2014; · 5.88 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
76 Downloads
Available from
May 21, 2014