Hair glucocorticoids are associated with childhood adversity, depressive symptoms and reduced global and lobar grey matter in Generation Scotland

Claire Green, Aleks Stolicyn, Mathew A. Harris, Xueyi Shen, Liana Romaniuk, Miruna C. Barbu, Emma L. Hawkins, Joanna M. Wardlaw, J. Douglas Steele, Gordon D. Waiter, Anca-Larisa Sandu, Archie Campbell, David J. Porteous, Jonathan R. Seckl, Stephen M. Lawrie, Rebecca M. Reynolds, Jonathan Cavanagh, Andrew M. McIntosh, Heather C. Whalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation has been commonly reported in major depressive disorder (MDD), but with considerable heterogeneity of results; potentially due to the predominant use of acute measures of an inherently variable/phasic system. Chronic longer-term measures of HPA-axis activity have yet to be systematically examined in MDD, particularly in relation to brain phenotypes, and in the context of early-life/contemporaneous stress. Here, we utilise a temporally stable measure of cumulative HPA-axis function (hair glucocorticoids) to investigate associations between cortisol, cortisone and total glucocorticoids with concurrent measures of (i) lifetime-MDD case/control status and current symptom severity, (ii) early/current-life stress and (iii) structural neuroimaging phenotypes, in N = 993 individuals from Generation Scotland (mean age = 59.1 yrs). Increased levels of hair cortisol were significantly associated with reduced global and lobar brain volumes with reductions in the frontal, temporal and cingulate regions (βrange = −0.057 to −0.104, all PFDR 
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume11
Issue number1
Early online date12 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2021

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