0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

1
Letter to the Editor   |    
Hippocampus and Amygdala Pathology in Depression
LUDGER TEBARTZ VAN ELST, M.D.; DIETER EBERT, M.D.; MICHAEL R. TRIMBLE, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.PSYCH.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:652-a-653. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.4.652-a

To the Editor: Recently, J. Douglas Bremner, M.D., and colleagues (1) reported smaller hippocampal volumes in patients with major depression than in nondepressed comparison subjects. However, an even more striking finding was mentioned without discussion of its interesting implications: patients with major depression displayed amygdala volumes that were 25% larger than those of healthy comparison subjects. This finding was only marginally significant, which probably was because of the difficulty of measuring the amygdala, which results in a high variability of data. However, to our knowledge, this is the fourth report of amygdala hypertrophy associated with different depressive syndromes (24). With this observation being made by four different research groups in four different patient populations, the question arises as to what this finding of depression-related amygdala hypertrophy means. It might be a risk factor for depressive syndromes in general, or it might reflect only a state of chronically greater emotional information processing. The fact that it has been observed in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and dysthymia supports the latter assumption. Dr. Bremner et al. could have helped answer this question by analyzing a possible relationship between amygdala volumes and the duration and severity of depressive symptoms.

Furthermore, the question arises as to how cerebral substructures might increase in volume. One might speculate that a specific dysfunctional mode of information processing results in greater focal perfusion and larger cellular size. Alternatively, dysfunctional emotional information processing might result in cell division in cerebral substructures. Recently, there have been reports in the literature demonstrating this mechanism (5).

Dr. Bremner and colleagues pointed out the possible association between hippocampal atrophy and higher glucocorticoid levels in major depression (1). The amygdala does have a direct efferent connection with the supraoptical and paraventricular nuclei. Both are the most important nuclei of corticotropin-releasing hormone secretion in the brain. One might speculate that the amygdala is involved in the control of the neuroendocrinological stress system. By analyzing a relationship between amygdala enlargement and hippocampal volume loss, Dr. Bremner et al. could possibly find some evidence for a distinctive role of these two limbic structures in the regulation of the neuroendocrinological stress system in affective disorder.

Bremner JD, Narayan M, Anderson ER, Staib LH, Miller HL, Charney DS: Hippocampal volume reduction in major depression. Am J Psychiatry  2000; 157:115–118
[PubMed]
 
Altshuler LL, Bartzokis G, Grieder T, Curran J, Mintz J: Amygdala enlargement in bipolar disorder and hippocampal reduction in schizophrenia: an MRI study demonstrating neuroanatomic specificity (letter). Arch Gen Psychiatry  1998; 55:663–664
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Strakowski SM, DelBello MP, Sax KW, Zimmerman ME, Shear PK, Hawkins JM, Larson ER: Brain magnetic resonance imaging of structural abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry  1999; 56:254–260
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Tebartz van Elst L, Woermann FG, Lemieux L, Trimble MR: Amygdala enlargement in dysthymia: a volumetric study of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Biol Psychiatry 1999; 46:1614–  1623
 
Gould E, Beylin A, Tanapat P, Reeves A, Shors TJ: Learning enhances adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation. Nat Neurosci  1999; 2:260–265
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
+

References

Bremner JD, Narayan M, Anderson ER, Staib LH, Miller HL, Charney DS: Hippocampal volume reduction in major depression. Am J Psychiatry  2000; 157:115–118
[PubMed]
 
Altshuler LL, Bartzokis G, Grieder T, Curran J, Mintz J: Amygdala enlargement in bipolar disorder and hippocampal reduction in schizophrenia: an MRI study demonstrating neuroanatomic specificity (letter). Arch Gen Psychiatry  1998; 55:663–664
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Strakowski SM, DelBello MP, Sax KW, Zimmerman ME, Shear PK, Hawkins JM, Larson ER: Brain magnetic resonance imaging of structural abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry  1999; 56:254–260
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Tebartz van Elst L, Woermann FG, Lemieux L, Trimble MR: Amygdala enlargement in dysthymia: a volumetric study of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Biol Psychiatry 1999; 46:1614–  1623
 
Gould E, Beylin A, Tanapat P, Reeves A, Shors TJ: Learning enhances adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation. Nat Neurosci  1999; 2:260–265
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Related Content
Books
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology, 4th Edition > Chapter 45.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology, 4th Edition > Chapter 45.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology, 4th Edition > Chapter 47.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology, 4th Edition > Chapter 45.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology, 4th Edition > Chapter 45.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles