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Hippocampal volume change in depression: Late- and early-onset illness compared

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Adrian Lloyd, Emeritus Professor Nicol Ferrier, Dr Robert Barber, Dr Anil Gholkar OBE, Professor Allan Young, Professor John O'Brien


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Background: Evidence for structural hippocampal change in depression is limited despite reports of neuronal damage due to hypercortisolaemia and vascular pathology. Aims: To compare hippocampal and white matter structural change in demographically matched controls and participants with early-onset and late-onset depression. Method: High-resolution volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and rating of MRI hyperintensities. Results: A total of 51 people with depression and 39 control participants were included. Participants with late-onset depression had bilateral hippocampal atrophy compared with those with early- onset depression and controls. Hippocampal volumes did not differ between control participants and those with early- onset depression. Age of depression onset correlated (negatively) with hippocampal volume but lifetime duration of depression did not. Hyperintensity ratings did not differ between groups. Conclusions: Results suggest that acquired biological factors are of greater importance in late- than in early-onset illness and that pathological processes other than exposure to hypercortisolaemia of depression underlie hippocampal atrophy in depression of late life.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lloyd AJ, Ferrier IN, Barber R, Gholkar A, Young AH, O'Brien JT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2004

Volume: 184

Issue: 6

Pages: 488-495

Print publication date: 01/06/2004

ISSN (print): 0007-1250

ISSN (electronic): 1472-1465

Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists


DOI: 10.1192/bjp.184.6.488

PubMed id: 15172942


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