Background: Abnormalities in the amygdala and hippocampus have been implicated in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD). To our knowledge, no prior study has examined amygdala-hippocampus anatomy in pediatric patients with familial MDD (at least one first degree relative with MDD).
Methods: Thirty-two psychotropic-naive patients with familial MDD, aged 8-21 years (12 males and 20 females), and 35 group-matched healthy participants (13 males and 22 females) underwent volumetric magnetic resonance imaging in order to evaluate hippocampal and amygdala volumes.
Results: Patients with familial MDD had significantly smaller left hippocampal (p = .007, effect size [d] = .44) and right hippocampal volumes (p = .025, d = .33) than controls. No differences were noted in amygdala volumes between groups (right: p > .05, left: p > .05). No correlations between hippocampal or amygdala volumes and demographic or clinical variables were noted.
Conclusions: Reduced hippocampal volume may be suggestive of a risk factor for developing MDD.