Subthreshold depression and regional brain volumes in young community adolescents.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2015-10-01; 54(10): 832-840
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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 Oct;54(10):797-8.
OBJECTIVE: Neuroimaging findings have been reported in regions of the brain
associated with emotion in both adults and adolescents with depression, but few
studies have investigated whether such brain alterations can be detected in
adolescents with subthreshold depression, a condition at risk for major
depressive disorder. In this study, we searched for differences in brain
structure at age 14 years in adolescents with subthreshold depression and their
relation to depression at age 16 years.
METHOD: High-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess
adolescents with self-reported subthreshold depression (n = 119) and healthy
control adolescents (n = 461), all recruited from a community-based sample.
Regional gray and white matter volumes were compared across groups using
whole-brain voxel-based morphometry. The relationship between subthreshold
depression at baseline and depression outcome was explored using causal mediation
analyses to search for mediating effects of regional brain volumes.
RESULTS: Adolescents with subthreshold depression had smaller gray matter volume
in the ventromedial prefrontal and rostral anterior cingulate cortices and
caudates, and smaller white matter volumes in the anterior limb of internal
capsules, left forceps minor, and right cingulum. In girls, but not in boys, the
relation between subthreshold depression at baseline and high depression score at
follow-up was mediated by medial-prefrontal gray matter volume.
CONCLUSION: Subthreshold depression in early adolescence might be associated with
smaller gray and white matter volumes in regions of the frontal-striatal-limbic
affective circuit, and the occurrence of depression in girls with subthreshold
depression might be influenced by medial-prefrontal gray matter volume. However,
these findings should be interpreted with caution because of the limitations of
the clinical assessment methods.