Quantitative analysis of the high-resolution T1-weighted images provides useful markers to measure anatomical changes during brain degeneration related to major depressive disorder (MDD). However, there are controversial findings regarding these volume alterations in MDD indicating even to increased volumes in some specific regions in MDD patients.
This study is a case-controlled study including 23 depression patients and 15 healthy subject person and 20–38 years of age, who have been treated at the Neurology and Psychiatry Department here. We compared specific anatomic regions between drug-free MDD patients and control group through MRI-Cloud, which is a novel brain imaging method that enables to analyze multiple brain regions simultaneously.
We have found that frontal, temporal, and parietal hemispheric volumes and middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, superior parietal gyrus, cingulum-hippocampus, lateral fronto-orbital gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, superior temporal white matter, middle temporal gyrus subanatomic regions were significantly reduced bilaterally in MDD patients compared to the control group, while striatum, amygdala, putamen, and nucleus accumbens bilaterally increased in MDD group compared to the control group suggesting that besides the heterogeneity among studies, also comorbid factors such as anxiety and different personal traits could be responsible for these discrepant results.
Our study gives a strong message that depression is associated with altered structural brain volumes, especially, in drug-free and first-episode MDD patients who present with similar duration and severity of depression while the role of demographic and comorbid risk factors should not be neglected.