Distinct brain alterations in response to traumatic events may render trauma-exposed individuals either resilient or vulnerable to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study compared regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (rCMRglu) among trauma-exposed individuals with current PTSD (PTSD group, n = 61), those without current PTSD (Resilience/Recovery group, n = 26), and trauma-unexposed controls (Control group, n = 54). All participants underwent brain [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scans. Voxel-wise group differences in rCMRglu among the three groups were evaluated. Associations between rCMRglu and both PTSD severity and resilience were examined. The rCMRglu in the right anterior insula and adjacent prefrontal and striatal areas was lower in the PTSD group, while higher in the Resilience/Recovery group, compared to the Control group. In addition, the lower glucose metabolism of these areas was associated with higher severity and less improvement in PTSD symptoms in the PTSD group, while the higher levels of rCMRglu were correlated with stronger resilience in the Resilience/Recovery group. This study suggests distinct roles of the anterior insula in response to trauma between the PTSD and Resilience/Recovery groups. Heightened rCMRglu in the anterior insular regions may reflect an underlying mechanism of resilience against traumatic stress, while reduced rCMRglu may indicate vulnerability to PTSD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Brain Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (2015M3C7A1028373, 2015M3C7A1028376), and by the Field-oriented Support of Fire Fighting Technology Research and Development Program funded by the National Fire Agency (MPSS-Fire Fighting Safety-2016-86).
© 2019, The Author(s).