Amygdala volume in late-life depression: relationship with age of onset.

Burke J, McQuoid DR, Payne ME, Steffens DC, Krishnan RR, Taylor WD
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 19 (9): 771-6

PMID: 21873832 · PMCID: PMC3164525 · DOI:10.1097/JGP.0b013e318211069a

OBJECTIVES - Depression is common in the elderly population. Although numerous neuroimaging studies have examined depressed elders, there is limited research examining how amygdala volume may be related to depression.

DESIGN - A cross-sectional examination of amygdala volume comparing elders with and without a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, and between depressed subjects with early and later initial depression onset.

SETTING - An academic medical center.

PARTICIPANTS - Ninety-one elderly patients meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria for major depression (54 early-onset depressed and 37 late-onset depressed) and 31 elderly subjects without any psychiatric diagnoses.

MEASUREMENTS - Amygdala and cerebral volumes were measured using reliable manual tracing methods.

RESULTS - In models controlling for age, sex, and cerebral volume, there was a significant difference between diagnostic cohorts in amygdala volume bilaterally (left: F[2, 116] = 16.28, p < 0.0001; right: F[2, 116] = 16.28, p < 0.0001). Using least squares mean group analyses, both early- and late-onset depressed subjects exhibited smaller bilateral amygdala volumes than did the nondepressed cohort (all comparisons p < 0.0001), but the two depressed cohorts did not exhibit a statistically significant difference.

LIMITATIONS - Limitations include missing antidepressant treatment data, recall bias, inability to establish a causal relationship between amygdala size and depression given the cross-sectional nature of the design.

CONCLUSIONS - Depression in later life is associated with smaller amygdala volumes, regardless of age of initial onset of depression.

MeSH Terms (13)

Aged Age of Onset Amygdala Atrophy Cerebral Cortex Cross-Sectional Studies Depressive Disorder, Major Female Humans Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Neuroimaging Psychiatric Status Rating Scales

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