Gray matter density reduction in the insula in fire survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder: a voxel-based morphometric study

Psychiatry Res. 2006 Jan 30;146(1):65-72. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2005.09.006. Epub 2005 Dec 20.


Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) is an objective whole-brain technique for characterizing regional cerebral volume and tissue concentration differences in structural magnetic resonance images. In the current study, we used VBM to examine possible cerebral gray matter abnormalities in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to fire. The subjects included 12 victims of a fire disaster with PTSD and 12 matched victims of the same fire without PTSD. Magnetic resonance images were obtained on a 1.5-Tesla General Electric scanner at Central South University, and an entire brain volume of 248 contiguous slices was obtained for each subject. Then, gray matter density in patients with PTSD and control groups was compared by using a VBM approach in SPM2. Group analysis was thresholded at P<0.001, uncorrected, at the voxel level. The following three regions of reduced gray matter volume were found in patients with PTSD compared with controls: left hippocampus, left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and bilateral insular cortex. It was concluded that there are structural abnormalities of the hippocampus, the ACC and the insular cortex in patients with PTSD due to fire.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*