Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 390–401 | Cite as

Anomalous gray matter structural networks in recent onset post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Shun Qi
  • Yun-Feng Mu
  • Long-Biao Cui
  • Jian Zhang
  • Fan Guo
  • Qing-Rong Tan
  • Mei Shi
  • Kang Liu
  • Yi-Bin Xi
  • Nan-Yin Zhang
  • Xiao-Liang Zhang
  • Yong He
  • Jian Yang
  • Hong Yin
Original Research


Alterations of the topological organization of abnormal regions or network-level structural aberrations are still poorly understood for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Herein, we investigated brain structural networks in recent-onset PTSD patients, all affected by the coalmine-flood disaster. Cortical networks were studied in recent onset PTSD patients (n = 15) and matched healthy controls (n = 25). Cortical networks were constructed by thresholding correlation matrices of 150 regions and quantified using graph theoretical approaches. Contributions of high-degree nodes, and regional and global network measures, including degree and betweenness, were studied. Compared with healthy controls, PTSD patients showed altered quantitative values in global network properties, characterized by shorter path length and higher clustering. Moreover, PTSD patients exhibited decreased connectivity in the right lingual gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, left supramarginal gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, bilateral superior and inferior frontal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, and posterior cingulate gyrus. Nodal centrality decreased predominantly in the occipital regions (lingual gyrus) and default-mode regions, while increased correlations and centralities were observed in the medial temporal lobe and posterior cingulate cortex. PTSD-related networks exhibited a less efficient organization and regional connectivity. According to these findings, we conclude that regional connections involving fear-processing and re-experiential-processing cortex may play a role in maintaining or adapting to PTSD pathology.


Post-traumatic stress disorder Gray matter Structural networks Small world networks Cortex thickness 


Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81171278) and National Key Technology R&D Program in the 11th Five-year Plan of China (2007BA117B02).

Conflict of interest

Shun Qi declares that he has no conflict of interest. Yun-Feng Mu declares that she has no conflict of interest. Long-Biao Cui declares that he has no conflict of interest. Jian Zhang declares that she has no conflict of interest. Fan Guo declares that she has no conflict of interest. Qing-Rong Tan declares that she has no conflict of interest. Mei Shi declares that she has no conflict of interest. Kang Liu declares that he has no conflict of interest. Yi-Bin Xi declares that he has no conflict of interest. Nan-Yin Zhang declares that he has no conflict of interest. Xiao-Liang Zhang declares that he has no conflict of interest. Yong He declares that he has no conflict of interest. Jian Yang declares that he has no conflict of interest. Hong Yin declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11682_2017_9693_MOESM1_ESM.doc (474 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 474 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shun Qi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yun-Feng Mu
    • 3
  • Long-Biao Cui
    • 1
  • Jian Zhang
    • 4
  • Fan Guo
    • 1
  • Qing-Rong Tan
    • 5
  • Mei Shi
    • 3
  • Kang Liu
    • 1
  • Yi-Bin Xi
    • 1
  • Nan-Yin Zhang
    • 6
  • Xiao-Liang Zhang
    • 7
  • Yong He
    • 8
  • Jian Yang
    • 2
  • Hong Yin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyXijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.Department of RadiotherapyXijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anChina
  4. 4.Department of Respiratory MedicineXijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anChina
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryXijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anChina
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  7. 7.Department of Radiology and Program in BioengineeringUC San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  8. 8.State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and LearningBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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