Greater MRI lesion volumes in elderly depressed subjects than in control subjects

Psychiatry Res. 2005 May 30;139(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2004.08.004.


Hyperintense lesions in both white matter and gray matter on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are associated with late-life depression. This large study examined differences in gray and white matter lesion volumes on brain MRI between 253 elderly depressed and 146 control subjects. White matter and gray matter lesion volumes were measured in each hemisphere using a semi-automated segmentation process and compared against depression status. Depressed subjects exhibited significantly greater total white matter (mean 7.22 ml) and gray matter (mean 0.30 ml) lesion volumes in both hemispheres than did control subjects (mean 4.87 ml in white matter and 0.18 ml in gray matter). This difference remained statistically significant even after controlling for confounders such as age, sex, race and reports of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Patients with late-life depression have larger white matter lesion and gray matter lesion volumes than do control subjects. Future research should combine similar volumetric techniques with methods of identifying the location of lesions specific to late-life depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires