Hippocampal neuroplasticity in major depressive disorder

Neuroscience. 2015 Nov 19;309:200-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.04.047. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


One of the most replicated findings has been that hippocampus volume is decreased in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Recent volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies suggest that localized differences in hippocampal volume may be more prominent than global differences. Preclinical and post-mortem studies in MDD indicated that different subfields of the hippocampus may respond differently to stress and may also have differential levels of plasticity in response to antidepressant treatment. Advances in high-field MRI allowed researchers to visualize and measure hippocampal subfield volumes in MDD patients in vivo. The results of these studies provide the first in vivo evidence that hippocampal volume reductions in MDD are specific to the cornu ammonis and dentate gyrus hippocampal subfields, findings that appear, on the surface, consistent with preclinical evidence for localized mechanisms of hippocampal neuroplasticity. In this review we discuss how recent advances in neuroimaging allow researchers to further understand hippocampal neuroplasticity in MDD and how it is related to antidepressant treatment, memory function, and disease progression.

Keywords: antidepressant treatment; cornu ammonis; dentate gyrus; hippocampus; major depressive disorder; memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / physiology
  • Organ Size