Stroke lesion in cortical neural circuits and post-stroke incidence of major depressive episode: a 4-month prospective study

World J Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;12(7):539-48. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2011.562242. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


Objective: Little is known about the relevance of lesion in neural circuits reported to be associated with major depressive disorder. We investigated the association between lesion stroke size in the limbic-cortical-striatal-pallidal-thalamic (LCSPT) circuit and incidence of major depressive episode (MDE).

Methods: We enrolled 68 patients with first-ever ischemic stroke and no history of major depressive disorder. Neurological and psychiatric examinations were performed at three time-points. We diagnosed major depressive episode, following DSM-IV criteria. Lesion location and volume were determined with magnetic resonance imaging, using a semi-automated method based on the Brodmann Cytoarchitectonic Atlas.

Results: Twenty-one patients (31%) experienced major depressive episode. Larger lesions in the left cortical regions of the LCSPT circuit (3,760 vs. 660 mm3; P = 0.004) were associated with higher incidence of MDE. Secondary analyses revealed that major depressive episode was associated with larger lesions in areas of the medial prefrontal cortex including the ventral (BA24) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (BA32) and subgenual cortex (BA25); and also the subiculum (BA28/36) and amygdala (BA34).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that depression due to stroke is aetiologically related to the disruption of the left LCSPT circuit and support the relevance of the medial prefrontal cortex dysfunction in the pathophysiology of depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / pathology*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / pathology*
  • Time Factors