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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Jeremy D. Coplan, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA e-mail: jeremy.coplan@downstate.edu

Edited by: Edward Z. Tronick, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Reviewed by: Simone Macri, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy; Richard E. Honigman, Central Nassau Pediatrics, USA

We acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Shirne Baptiste, Douglas Rosenblum and Eric L. P. Smith.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

Supported by grant from National Institute for Mental Health (R01MH65519-01; RO1MH098073 (Joan Kaufman) NIMH grant R21MH066748 (Jack M. Gorman), R01MH59990A (Jeremy D. Coplan), and NARSAD Mid-investigator Award (Jeremy D. Coplan).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Neurosciences
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • amygdala
  • early life stress
  • non-human primates
  • MRI
  • stress
  • serotonin transporter gene

Early life stress and macaque annygdala hypertrophy: preliminary evidence for a role for the serotonin transporter gene

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Journal Title:

Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience


Volume 8, Number OCT


, Pages 342-342

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background: Children exposed to early life stress (ELS) exhibit enlarged amygdala volume in comparison to controls. The primary goal of this study was to examine amygdala volumes in bonnet macaques subjected to maternal variable foraging demand (VFD) rearing, a well-established model of ELS. Preliminary analyses examined the interaction of ELS and the serotonin transporter gene on amygdala volume. Secondary analyses were conducted to examine the association between amygdala volume and other stress-related variables previously found to distinguish VFD and non-VFD reared animals. Methods: Twelve VFD-reared and nine normally reared monkeys completed MRI scans on a 3T system (mean age = 5.2 years). Results: Left amygdala volume was larger in VFD vs. control macaques. Larger amygdala volume was associated with: “high” cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin releasing-factor (CRF) determined when the animals were in adolescence (mean age = 2.7 years); reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) during young adulthood (mean age = 5.2 years) and timid anxiety-like responses to an intruder during full adulthood (mean age = 8.4 years). Right amygdala volume varied inversely with left hippocampal neurogenesis assessed in late adulthood (mean age = 8.7 years). Exploratory analyses also showed a gene-by-environment effect, with VFD-reared macaques with a single short allele of the serotonin transporter gene exhibiting larger amygdala volume compared to VFD-reared subjects with only the long allele and normally reared controls. Conclusion: These data suggest that the left amygdala exhibits hypertrophy after ELS, particularly in association with the serotonin transporter gene, and that amygdala volume variation occurs in concert with other key stress-related behavioral and neurobiological parameters observed across the lifecycle. Future research is required to understand the mechanisms underlying these diverse and persistent changes associated with ELS and amygdala volume.

Copyright information:

© 2014 Coplan, Fathy, Jackowski, Tang, Perera, Mathew, Martinez, Abdallah, Dwork, Pantol, Carpenter, Gorman, Nemeroff, Owens, Kaffman and Kaufman.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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