Increased amygdala: hippocampal volume ratios associated with severity of anxiety in pediatric major depression

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2003 Spring;13(1):65-73. doi: 10.1089/104454603321666207.


Background: Neurobiologic abnormalities in the temporal lobe, particularly medial temporolimbic circuits, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD). Although MDD commonly emerges during childhood and adolescence, to our knowledge, no prior study has examined temporal lobe anatomy in pediatric patients with MDD near the onset of illness before treatment.

Methods: Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging scans were conducted in 23 psychotropic drug-naïve pediatric patients with MDD, aged 8-17 years, and 23 case-matched healthy comparison subjects.

Results: Pediatric patients with MDD had significantly larger left (14%) and right (11%) amygdala:hippocampal volume ratios than controls. Increased left and right amygdala:hippocampal volume ratios were associated with increased severity of anxiety but not increased severity of depression or duration of illness.

Conclusion: These results suggest that alterations in amygdala:hippocampal volume ratios in pediatric MDD may more reflect severity of associated anxiety than depression. These results underscore the importance of assessment for comorbidity in the study of MDD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / pathology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index