Hippocampus shape analysis and late-life depression.
Major depression in the elderly is associated with brain structural changes and vascular lesions. Changes in the subcortical regions of the limbic system have also been noted. Studies examining hippocampus volumetric differences in depression have shown variable results, possibly due to any volume differences being secondary to local shape changes rather than differences in the overall volume. Shape analysis offers the potential to detect such changes. The present study applied spherical harmonic (SPHARM) shape analysis to the left and right hippocampi of 61 elderly subjects with major depression and 43 non-depressed elderly subjects. Statistical models controlling for age, sex, and total cerebral volume showed a significant reduction in depressed compared with control subjects in the left hippocampus (F(1,103) = 5.26; p = 0.0240) but not right hippocampus volume (F(1,103) = 0.41; p = 0.5213). Shape analysis showed significant differences in the mid-body of the left (but not the right) hippocampus between depressed and controls. When the depressed group was dichotomized into those whose depression was remitted at time of imaging and those who were unremitted, the shape comparison showed remitted subjects to be indistinguishable from controls (both sides) while the unremitted subjects differed in the midbody and the lateral side near the head. Hippocampal volume showed no difference between controls and remitted subjects but nonremitted subjects had significantly smaller left hippocampal volumes with no significant group differences in the right hippocampus. These findings may provide support to other reports of neurogenic effects of antidepressants and their relation to successful treatment for depressive symptoms.
Zhao, Z; Taylor, WD; Styner, M; Steffens, DC; Krishnan, KRR; MacFall, JR
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