Interaction of childhood stress with hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume reduction in major depression.

Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 4.09). 10/2010; 44(13):799-807. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.01.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Early emotional stress is associated with a life-long burden of risk for later depression and stressful life events contribute to the development of depressive episodes. In this study we investigated whether childhood stress is associated with structural brain alterations in patients with major depression (MD). Forty-three patients with MD and 44 age as well as gender matched healthy control subjects were investigated using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Region of interest analysis of the hippocampus, whole brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and assessment of childhood stress was carried out. Significantly smaller hippocampal white matter and prefrontal gray matter volume was observed in patients with MD compared to healthy controls. In particular left hippocampal white matter was smaller in patients, who had emotional childhood neglect, compared to those without neglect. For male patients this effect was seen in the left and right hippocampus. Moreover, physical neglect during childhood affected prefrontal gray matter volume in healthy subjects. Both emotional neglect and brain structural abnormalities predicted cumulative illness duration and there was a significant interaction between emotional neglect and prefrontal volumes as well as hippocampal white matter on the illness course. Childhood neglect resulted in hippocampal white matter changes in patients with major depression, pronounced at the left side and in males. Most interestingly, childhood stress and brain structure volumes independently predicted cumulative illness course. Subjects with both, structural brain changes and childhood emotional neglect seem to be at a very high risk to develop a more severe illness course.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background. Major depressive disorder (MDD) neural underpinnings may differ based on onset age and childhood trauma. We assessed cortical thickness in patients who differed in age of MDD onset and examined trauma history influence. Methods. Adults with MDD (N = 36) and controls (HC; N = 18) underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Twenty patients had MDD onset <24 years of age (pediatric onset) and 16 had onset >25 years of age (adult onset). The MDD group was also subdivided into those with (N = 12) and without (N = 19) physical and/or sexual abuse as assessed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Cortical thickness was analyzed with FreeSurfer software. Results. Thicker frontal pole and a tendency for thinner transverse temporal cortices existed in MDD. The former was driven by the pediatric onset group and abuse history (independently), particularly in the right frontal pole. Inverse correlations existed between CTQ scores and frontal pole cortex thickness. A similar inverse relation existed with left inferior and right superior parietal cortex thickness. The superior temporal cortex tended to be thinner in pediatric versus adult onset groups with childhood abuse. Conclusions. This preliminary work suggests neural differences between pediatric and adult MDD onset. Trauma history also contributes to cytoarchitectural modulation. Thickened frontal pole cortices as a compensatory mechanism in MDD warrant evaluation.
    BioMed research international. 01/2013; 2013:410472.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Help seeking (HS) is a core coping strategy that is directed towards obtaining support, advice, or assistance as means of managing stress. Women have been found to use more HS than men. Neural correlates of sex differences have also been reported in prefrontal-limbic system (PLS) regions that are linked to stress and coping, yet structural differences between men and women relating to HS in the PLS are still unknown. Thus, the association between gray matter volume (GMV) and HS was investigated using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) in a large healthy sample (126 men and 156 women). Results indicated women reported more HS than men did. VBM results showed that the relation between HS scores and GMV differed between men and women in regions of the bilateral orbitofrontal cortex extending to the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex(OFC/sgACC). Among women, higher HS scores were associated with smaller GMV in these areas while a positive correlation between GMV and HS scores was observed among men. These results remained significant after controlling for general intelligence, stress, anxiety and depression. Thus, this study suggested that structural differences between men and women are correlated to characteristic brain regions known to be involved in the PLS which is considered critical in stress regulation.
    Scientific Reports 07/2014; 4:5700. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown lower hippocampal volume in major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients with MDD have consistently demonstrated worse performance than healthy controls a number of memory tests. Memory functions within the hippocampus in healthy younger subjects appear to be linked to cornu ammonis (CA1-3) and dentate gyrus (DG) subfields. Therefore, the main goal of the present study was to investigate whether memory deficits in MDD patients are related to reduction in hippocampal subfields volumes, particularly DG and CA 1–3.Methods15 MDD patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for MDD with moderate or severe episodes were recruited, together with 15 healthy controls. We used T2-weighted 2D Fast Spin Echo (FSE) and T1-weighted 3D MPRAGE sequences at 4.7 T to compare hippocampal subfield volumes at 0.09 μl voxel volume. Participants were administered the Wechsler Memory Scale.ResultsMDD patients underperformed in several episodic visual memory tasks, as well as in visual working memory, compared to healthy controls. Global hippocampal volumes were similar between groups; however, MDD patients showed significantly reduced DG volumes within the hippocampal body. Duration of depression correlated with MDD patients׳ total volumes in the hippocampal body and CA1-3 and DG subfields within it.LimitationsOur study sample was relatively small and the majority of patients were on antidepressant treatment.Conclusions Our findings suggest that DG volumes in particular may be worthy of further study to further elucidate their precise role in MDD, both by itself as well as in relation to memory.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 10/2014; · 3.71 Impact Factor