Electroconvulsive treatment prevents chronic restraint stress-induced atrophy of the hippocampal formation-A stereological study

Brain Behav. 2019 Feb;9(2):e01195. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1195. Epub 2019 Jan 18.


Introduction: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one of the most efficient treatments of major depressive disorder (MDD), although the underlying neurobiology remains poorly understood. There is evidence that ECT and MDD exert opposing effects on the hippocampal formation with respect to volume and number of neurons. However, there has been a paucity of quantitative data in experimental models of ECT and MDD.

Methods: Using design-based stereology, we have measured the effects of a stress-induced depression model (chronic restraint stress, CRS) and ECS on the morphology of the hippocampus by estimating the volume and total number of neurons in the hilus, CA1, and CA2/3, as well as in the entire hippocampus.

Results: We find that CRS induces a significant decrease in volume exclusively of the hilus and that ECS (CRS + ECS) blocks this reduction. Furthermore, ECS alone does not change the volume or total number of neurons in the entire hippocampus or any hippocampal subdivision in our rat model.

Keywords: cell numbers; chronic restraint stress; electroconvulsive stimulation; hippocampal volumes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrophy / etiology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Atrophy / prevention & control
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Male
  • Neurons
  • Organ Size
  • Rats