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Hippocampal volume in geriatric depression.

BACKGROUND: There is a growing literature on the importance of hippocampal volume in geriatric depression. METHODS: We examined hippocampal volume in a group of elderly depressed patients and a group of elderly control subjects (N = 66 geriatric depressed patients and 18 elderly nondepressed control subjects) recruited through Duke's Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Depression in the Elderly. The subjects received a standardized evaluation, including a magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain. Patients had unipolar major depression and were free of comorbid major psychiatric illness and neurologic illness. Differences were assessed using t tests and linear regression modeling. RESULTS: Accounting for the effects of age, gender, and total brain volume, depressed patients tended to have smaller right hippocampal volume (p =.014) and left hippocampal volume (p =.073). Among depressed patients, age of onset was negatively but not significantly related to right hippocampal volume (p =.052) and to left hippocampal volume (p =.062). We noted that among subjects with either right or left hippocampal volume of 3 mL or less, the vast majority were patients rather than control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: These results support a role for hippocampal dysfunction in depression, particularly in late-age onset depression. Longitudinal studies examining both depressive and cognitive outcomes are needed to clarify the relationships between the hippocampus, depression, and dementia.

Pubmed ID: 10960161


  • Steffens DC
  • Byrum CE
  • McQuoid DR
  • Greenberg DL
  • Payne ME
  • Blitchington TF
  • MacFall JR
  • Krishnan KR


Biological psychiatry

Publication Data

August 15, 2000

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: K07 MH01367
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: P 30 MH40159
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH54846

Mesh Terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Female
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales