BACKGROUND - Prior studies have independently reported associations between major depressive disorder (MDD), elevated cortisol concentrations, early adverse events and region-specific decreases in grey matter volume, but the relationships among these variables are unclear. In the present study, we sought to evaluate the relationships between grey matter volume, early adverse events and cortisol levels in MDD.
METHODS/RESULTS - Grey matter volume was compared between 19 controls and 19 individuals with MDD using voxel-based morphometry. A history of early adverse events was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Subjects also provided salivary cortisol samples. Depressed patients showed decreased grey matter volume in the rostral ACC as compared to controls. Rostral ACC volume was inversely correlated with both cortisol and early adverse events.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings suggest a key relationship between ACC morphology, a history of early adverse events and circulating cortisol in the pathophysiology of MDD.