Background: Functional neuroimaging studies have implicated dysfunction of orbitofrontal cortex in the symptoms of depression, and a recent postmortem study of depressed patients found reduced density of neurons and glia in this area. The purpose of this study was to measure volume of orbitofrontal cortex and other frontal cortical subregions in patients with major depression.
Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure volume of the orbitofrontal cortex and other frontal cortical regions in patients with major depression in remission (n = 15) and comparison subjects (n = 20).
Results: Patients with depression had a statistically significant 32% smaller medial orbitofrontal (gyrus rectus) cortical volume, without smaller volumes of other frontal regions including anterior cingulate Brodmann's area 24 (subgenual gyrus), anterior cingulate Brodmann's area 32, subcallosal gyrus (Brodmann's area 25), or whole brain volume. The findings were significant after statistically controlling for brain size.
Conclusions: These findings are consistent with smaller orbitofrontal cortical volume in depression.