OBJECTIVE: The striatum, including the putamen and caudate, plays an important role in executive and emotional processing and may be involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. Few studies have examined structural abnormalities of the striatum in pediatric major depressive disorder (MDD) patients. We report striatal volume abnormalities in medication-naïve pediatric MDD compared to healthy comparison subjects. METHOD: Twenty seven medication-naïve pediatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) MDD and 26 healthy comparison subjects underwent volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The putamen and caudate volumes were traced manually by a blinded rater, and the patient and control groups were compared using analysis of covariance adjusting for age, sex, intelligence quotient, and total brain volumes. RESULTS: MDD patients had significantly smaller right striatum (6.0% smaller) and right caudate volumes (7.4% smaller) compared to the healthy subjects. Left caudate volumes were inversely correlated with severity of depression in MDD subjects. Age was inversely correlated with left and right putamen volumes in MDD patients but not in the healthy subjects. CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide fresh evidence for abnormalities in the striatum of medication-naïve pediatric MDD patients and suggest the possible involvement of the striatum in the pathophysiology of MDD.
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