hippocampus and depression

Mixed findings have been reported on the relationship between hippocampal integrity and major depression in clinical populations. Few neuroimaging studies have investigated associations between hippocampal measures and depressive symptoms in nondemented older adults. Here, we address this issue by imaging 36 nondemented adults over age 70 from the Einstein Aging Study, a community-based sample from the Bronx, NY. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 15-item Geriatric Depression scale (GDS). Clinically significant depression was defined using a cut-off score of 5 or greater. Hippocampal data included MRI-derived volume data normalized to midsagittal area and MRS-derived N-acetylaspartate to creatine ratios (NAA/Cr). Our result indicates that smaller total hippocampal volume was associated with higher GDS scores, but there were no significant association between hippocampal NAA/Cr and GDS score. These effects were consistent after controlling for age, education, and gender. Reduction in hippocampal volume could represent a risk factor or a consequence of depression in older adults. Further studies are needed to better understand the role of the hippocampus in the development and experience of depression in older adults.


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