Postmortem studies have documented abnormalities in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in depressed subjects. In this study we used magnetic resonance imaging to test for dlPFC volume differences between older depressed and non-depressed individuals. Eighty-eight subjects meeting DSM IV criteria for major depressive disorder and thirty-five control subjects completed clinical evaluations and cranial 3T magnetic resonance imaging. After tissue types were identified using an automated segmentation process, the dlPFC was measured in both hemispheres using manual delineation based on anatomical landmarks. Depressed subjects had significantly lower gray matter in the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (standardized to cerebral parenchyma) after controlling for age and sex. Our study confirmed the reduction of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in elderly depressed subjects, especially in the gray matter. These regional abnormalities may be associated with psychopathological changes in late-life depression.
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