Objective: To examine in vivo glutamatergic neurochemical alterations in the anterior cingulate cortex of children with major depressive disorder (MDD).
Method: Single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic (H-MRS) examinations of the anterior cingulate cortex were conducted in 13 psychotropic-naïve children and adolescents with MDD and 13 age- and sex-matched healthy children and adolescents. Ten of the 13 MDD patient-control pairs also had a H-MRS examination of occipital cortex.
Results: Anterior cingulate glutamatergic (Glx) concentrations were significantly lower (19% decrease) in MDD patients versus controls (9.27 +/- 0.43 versus 11.47 +/- 0.26, respectively, p = 0.000). Reduced anterior cingulate Glx in MDD patients was associated with increased severity of functional impairment. These results remained comparably significant after controlling for age and anterior cingulate volume. Occipital cortex Glx did not differ between MDD patients and controls.
Conclusions: These preliminary findings provide new evidence of localized functional neurochemical marker alterations in Glx in anterior cingulate cortex in pediatric MDD. Altered anterior cingulate Glx neurotransmission may be involved in the pathogenesis of MDD.