Hippocampal volumes of subjects with a history of major depressive episodes but currently in remission and with no known medical comorbidity were compared to matched normal controls by using volumetric magnetic resonance images. Subjects with a history of major depression had significantly smaller left and right hippocampal volumes with no differences in total cerebral volumes. The degree of hippocampal volume reduction correlated with total duration of major depression. In addition, large (diameter > or = 4.5 mm)-hippocampal low signal foci (LSF) were found within the hippocampus, and their number also correlated with the total number of days depressed. These results suggest that depression is associated with hippocampal atrophy, perhaps due to a progressive process mediated by glucocorticoid neurotoxicity.
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