Time-Dependent Effects of Corticosteroids on Human Amygdala Processing

Marloes J. A. G. Henckens*, Guido A. van Wingen, Marian Joels, Guillen Fernandez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Acute stress is associated with a sensitized amygdala. Corticosteroids, released in response to stress, are suggested to restore homeostasis by normalizing/desensitizing brain processing in the aftermath of stress. Here, we investigated the effects of corticosteroids on amygdala processing using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Since corticosteroids exert rapid nongenomic and slow genomic effects, we administered hydrocortisone either 75 min (rapid effects) or 285 min (slow effects) before scanning in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Seventy-two healthy males were scanned while viewing faces morphing from a neutral facial expression into fearful or happy expressions. Imaging results revealed that hydrocortisone desensitizes amygdala responsivity rapidly, while it selectively normalizes responses to negative stimuli slowly. Psychophysiological interaction analyses suggested that this slow normalization is related to an altered coupling of the amygdala with the medial prefrontal cortex. These results reveal a temporarily fine-tuned mechanism that is critical for avoiding amygdala overshoot during stress and enabling adequate recovery thereafter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12725-12732
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Volume30
Issue number38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22-Sep-2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • GLUCOCORTICOID-RECEPTORS
  • RAT HIPPOCAMPUS
  • GENE-EXPRESSION
  • MINERALOCORTICOID RECEPTORS
  • PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS
  • PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • LOCUS COERULEUS
  • GLOBAL SIGNAL
  • CELL-FUNCTION

Cite this