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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010 Jun;20(6):398-404. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2010.02.010. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Cortical thickness and voxel-based morphometry in depressed elderly.

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Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.


This is the first study to examine concurrently cortical thickness and voxel-based morphometric (VBM) abnormalities in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). In the current study we set out to investigate depressed elderly patients to determine whether a previous depression is related to neurobiological abnormalities in older age. Cortical thickness measures and VBM were applied to the same magnetic resonance imaging data set of 28 female elderly subjects with MDD and 38 age-matched control subjects. Two principal findings emerge from this study. First, no effect of illness on cortical thickness or gray matter density measurements was found. Moreover, life time depression, severity of illness and the number of depressive episodes were not associated with neurobiological abnormalities in older age in our patient group. Second, a diffuse pattern of highly significant age effects was found in cortical thickness as well as in the VBM measurements in the same areas, irrespective of diagnosis. In contrast to most findings of the literature to date, the results from this study indicate that lifetime depression as well as current state does not seem to influence brain structure in depressed female elderly.

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