Morphological changes in subregions of hippocampus and amygdala in major depressive disorder patients

Zhijun Yao, Yu Fu, Jianfeng Wu, Wenwen Zhang, Yue Yu, Zicheng Zhang, Xia Wu, Yalin Wang, Bin Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Despite many neuroimaging studies in the past years, the neuroanatomical substrates of major depressive disorder (MDD) subcortical structures are still not well understood. Since hippocampus and amygdala are the two vital subcortical structures that most susceptible to MDD, finding the evidence of morphological changes in their subregions may bring some new insights for MDD research. Combining structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with novel morphometry analysis methods, we recruited 25 MDD patients and 28 healthy controls (HC), and investigated their volume and morphological differences in hippocampus and amygdala. Relative to volumetric method, our methods detected more significant global morphological atrophies (p<0.05). More precisely, subiculum and cornu ammonis (CA) 1 subregions of bilateral hippocampus, lateral (LA) and basolateral ventromedial (BLVM) of left amygdala and LA, BLVM, central (CE), amygdalostriatal transition area (ASTR), anterior cortical (ACO) and anterior amygdaloid area (AAA) of right amygdala were demonstrated prone to atrophy. Correlation analyses between each subject’s surface eigenvalues and Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD) were then performed. Correlation results showed that atrophy areas in hippocampus and amygdala have slight tendencies of expanding into other subregions with the development of MDD. Finally, we performed group morphometric analysis and drew the atrophy and expansion areas between MDD-Medicated group (only 19 medicated subjects in MDD group were included) and HC group, found some preliminary evidence about subregional morphological resilience of hippocampus and amygdala. These findings revealed new pathophysiologic patterns in the subregions of hippocampus and amygdala, which can help with subsequent smaller-scale MDD research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-667
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Amygdala
  • Hippocampus
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Morphometry
  • Subcortical structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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