Disrupted grey matter network morphology in pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder

Running Niu, Du Lei, Fuqin Chen, Ying Chen, Xueling Suo, Lingjiang Li, Su Lui, Xiaoqi Huang, John A. Sweeney, Qiyong Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: Disrupted topological organization of brain functional networks has been widely observed in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the topological organization of the brain grey matter (GM) network has not yet been investigated in pediatric PTSD who was more vulnerable to develop PTSD when exposed to stress. Materials and methods: Twenty two pediatric PTSD patients and 22 matched trauma-exposed controls who survived a massive earthquake (8.0 magnitude on Richter scale) in Sichuan Province of western China in 2008 underwent structural brain imaging with MRI 8–15 months after the earthquake. Brain networks were constructed based on the morphological similarity of GM across regions, and analyzed using graph theory approaches. Nonparametric permutation testing was performed to assess group differences in each topological metric. Results: Compared with controls, brain networks of PTSD patients were characterized by decreased characteristic path length (P = 0.0060) and increased clustering coefficient (P = 0.0227), global efficiency (P = 0.0085) and local efficiency (P = 0.0024). Locally, patients with PTSD exhibited increased centrality in nodes of the default-mode (DMN), central executive (CEN) and salience networks (SN), involving medial prefrontal (mPFC), parietal, anterior cingulate (ACC), occipital and olfactory cortex and hippocampus. Conclusions: Our analyses of topological brain networks in children with PTSD indicate a significantly more segregated and integrated organization. The associations and disassociations between these grey matter findings and white matter (WM) and functional changes previously reported in this sample may be important for diagnostic purposes and understanding the brain maturational effects of pediatric PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-951
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2018


  • Brain network
  • Graph theory
  • MRI
  • Pediatric PTSD
  • Psychoradiology
  • Topological organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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