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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Dec 1;56(11):825-31.

Hippocampal changes and white matter lesions in early-onset depression.

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Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrechtz, The Netherlands.



Hippocampal volume reduction and increased prevalence of subcortical white matter lesions have been reported in late-life depression. We aimed to examine whether total number of subcortical white matter lesions were associated with reduced hippocampal volume in aged female subjects with early-onset depression (< 45 years) and healthy comparison subjects.


The study included 28 middle-aged and elderly subjects with major depression and 41 age-matched control subjects. Hippocampal, parahippocampal gyrus, and orbitofrontal cortex volumes were determined using manual tracing methods. White matter lesions were rated from T2-weighted MRI scans using a semiquantitative classification scale.


After controlling for total brain volume and age, patients had reduced hippocampal volume due to right hippocampal volume decrease (2.84 mL vs. 3.12 mL, F = 16.6, p < .001). Parahippocampal and orbitofrontal volumes did not differ significantly between groups. Multiple linear regression analysis indicated that reduced hippocampal volume did not significantly correlate with total number of subcortical white matter lesions (t = .673, p = .518).


Right hippocampal volume was reduced in aged female early-onset subjects with depression. Total number of subcortical white matter lesions was not associated with the decrease in right hippocampal volume. Our data suggest hippocampal involvement, independent of subcortical white matter lesions, in the neuropathology of early-onset depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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