Introduction: Smaller hippocampal volumes have been associated with major depressive disorder (MDD). The hippocampus consists of several subfields that may be differentially related to MDD. We investigated the association of occurrence of major depressive episodes (MDEs), assessed five times over seven years, with hippocampal subfield and entorhinal cortex volumes at 7 tesla MRI.
Methods: In this prospective study of randomly selected general practice attendees, MDEs according to DSM-IV-R criteria were assessed at baseline and after 6, 12, 39 and 84 months follow-up. At the last follow-up, a T2 (0.7 mm(3)) 7 tesla MRI scan was obtained in 47 participants (60±10 years). The subiculum, cornu ammonis (CA) 1 to 3, dentate gyrus&CA4 and entorhinal cortex volumes were manually segmented according a published protocol.
Results: Of the 47 participants, 13 had one MDE and 5 had multiple MDEs. ANCOVAs, adjusted for age, sex, education and intracranial volume, revealed no significant differences in hippocampal subfield or entorhinal cortex volumes between participants with and without an MDE in the preceding 84 months. Multiple episodes were associated with smaller subiculum volumes (B=-0.03 mL/episode; 95% CI -0.06; -0.003), but not with the other hippocampal subfield volumes, entorhinal cortex, or total hippocampal volume.
Limitations: A limitation of this study is the small sample size which makes replication necessary.
Conclusions: In this exploratory study, we found that an increasing number of major depressive episodes was associated with smaller subiculum volumes in middle-aged and older persons, but not with smaller volumes in other hippocampal subfields or the entorhinal cortex.
Keywords: 7 tesla; Cohort; Depression; Hippocampus; Prospective; Subiculum.
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