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Hippocampal volume in geriatric depression

  • David C Steffens
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to David C. Steffens, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3903, Durham NC 27710
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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  • Christopher E Byrum
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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  • Douglas R McQuoid
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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  • Daniel L Greenberg
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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  • Martha E Payne
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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  • Timothy F Blitchington
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  • James R MacFall
    Affiliations
    Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USA (JRM), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
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  • K.Ranga Rama Krishnan
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina USADepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCS, CEB, DRM, DLG, MEP, TFB, KRRK)
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      Abstract

      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.

      Keywords

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