Illness Progression, Recent Stress, and Morphometry of Hippocampal Subfields and Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Major Depression
Author(s)Treadway, Michael T.; Waskom, Michael L.; Dillon, Daniel G.; Holmes, Avram J.; Park, Min Tae M.; Chakravarty, M. Mallar; Dutra, Sunny J.; Polli, Frida E.; Iosifescu, Dan V.; Fava, Maurizio; Pizzagalli, Diego A.; Gabrieli, John D. E.; ... Show more Show less
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Background Longitudinal studies of illness progression in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) indicate that the onset of subsequent depressive episodes becomes increasingly decoupled from external stressors. A possible mechanism underlying this phenomenon is that multiple episodes induce long-lasting neurobiological changes that confer increased risk for recurrence. Prior morphometric studies have frequently reported volumetric reductions in patients with MDD—especially in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the hippocampus—but few studies have investigated whether these changes are exacerbated by prior episodes. Methods In a sample of 103 medication-free patients with depression and control subjects with no history of depression, structural magnetic resonance imaging was performed to examine relationships between number of prior episodes, current stress, hippocampal subfield volume and cortical thickness. Volumetric analyses of the hippocampus were performed using a recently validated subfield segmentation approach, and cortical thickness estimates were obtained using vertex-based methods. Participants were grouped on the basis of the number of prior depressive episodes and current depressive diagnosis. Results Number of prior episodes was associated with both lower reported stress levels and reduced volume in the dentate gyrus. Cortical thinning of the left mPFC was associated with a greater number of prior depressive episodes but not current depressive diagnosis. Conclusions Collectively, these findings are consistent with preclinical models suggesting that the dentate gyrus and mPFC are especially vulnerable to stress exposure and provide evidence for morphometric changes that are consistent with stress-sensitization models of recurrence in MDD.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Treadway, Michael T., Michael L. Waskom, Daniel G. Dillon, Avram J. Holmes, Min Tae M. Park, M. Mallar Chakravarty, Sunny J. Dutra, et al. “Illness Progression, Recent Stress, and Morphometry of Hippocampal Subfields and Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Major Depression.” Biological Psychiatry 77, no. 3 (February 2015): 285–294.
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