Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with abnormal hippocampal activity; however, the functional connectivity (FC) of the hippocampus with other brain regions in PTSD and its relations with symptoms warrants further attention. We investigated subregional hippocampal FC in PTSD during a resting state compared with a trauma-exposed control (TEC) group. Based on extant research, we targeted the FCs of the anterior and posterior hippocampal subregions with the amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and the posterior cingulate (PCC).
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance images were acquired from 11 individuals with PTSD and 13 trauma-exposed controls. Anterior and posterior hippocampal FC was compared between groups. Within the PTSD and TEC groups, subregional hippocampal FC was correlated with scores on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) at time of scan and 4 months post-scan.
Those with PTSD had significantly greater FC compared with the TEC group between the left posterior hippocampus and the bilateral PCC (g’s > .96). Direct contrasts of the Fisher z-transformed coefficients indicated that the correlations between CAPS scores 4 months post scan and the FC between the left hippocampal head and the right PCC (z = − 2.07, p = .039) as well as the FC between the right hippocampal tail and the right mPFC (z = − 2.19, p = .029) were significantly greater in the PTSD group compared to the TEC group.
These results support between-group differences in posterior hippocampal FC and different relations with PTSD future symptoms, underscoring associations with the anterior and posterior hippocampus. These findings enrich our understanding of PTSD pathophysiology and provide support for future investigations of imaging biomarkers predictive of disease progression.