The hippocampus and depression

Eur Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;17 Suppl 3:300-5. doi: 10.1016/s0924-9338(02)00655-7.


The effect of depression on the hippocampus has become the focus of a number of structural and functional neuroimaging studies. In the past two decades, advances in neuroimaging techniques now allow the examination of subtle changes in both regional structure and function that are associated with the pathophysiology of depression. Many studies using 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumetric measurement have reported decreases in hippocampal volume among depressed subjects compared with controls, whereas other studies have not found any volume loss. Differences among studies have been discussed. In some studies, the volume loss appears to have functional significance including an association with memory loss. Furthermore, we have found a trend towards loss of 5-HT(2A) receptors in the hippocampus using positron emission tomography (PET) to detect regional changes in [18F]altanserin binding. Functional imaging extends the sensitivity and specificity of structural imaging and will lead to a better understanding of affective disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / anatomy & histology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / blood supply
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / anatomy & histology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / blood supply
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


  • Serotonin