Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 79
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825330

Structural changes of the hippocampus and the amygdala in patients with major depression and healthy controls during a one year follow-up

T Frodl 1, T Zetzsche 1, T Höhne 1, S Banac 2, C Schorr 1, M Jäger 1, G Leinsinger 2, R Bottlender 1, M Reiser 2, HJ Möller 1, EM Meisenzahl 1
  • 1Department of Psychiatry
  • 2Department of Radiology (Klinikum Innenstadt), Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich

Although the hippocampus was found to be smaller in patients with depression, prospective longitudinal in-vivo studies are necessary to investigate whether depression can result in a further diminution of hippocampal volumes or whether a smaller hippocampal volume predisposes an individual to the development of depression.

Thirty patients with major depression as well as thirty healthy control subjects matched for age, gender and handedness were examined at admission in the hospital and were reexamined one year later by high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

No significant volume changes were observed in patients or controls between baseline and one year follow-up investigations concerning hippocampal and amygdala volumes. However, the subgroup of non-remitted, depressed patients at the time of the follow-up investigation showed significantly reduced hippocampal volumes already at baseline and at the one year follow-up.

These results do not support the hypothesis that hippocampal volumes diminish during the one year follow-up period. However, smaller hippocampal volumes may be related to a chronic course of depression.