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At present, we do not have any biological tests which can contribute towards a diagnosis of depression. Neuroimaging measures have shown some potential as biomarkers for diagnosis. However, participants have generally been from the same ethnic background while the applicability of a biomarker would require replication in individuals of diverse ethnicities.
We sought to examine the diagnostic potential of the structural neuroanatomy of depression in a sample of a wide ethnic diversity.
Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were obtained from 23 patients with major depressive disorder in an acute depressive episode (mean age: 39.8 years) and 20 matched healthy volunteers (mean age: 38.8 years). Participants were of Asian, African and Caucasian ethnicity recruited from the general community.
Structural neuroanatomy combining white and grey matter distinguished patients from controls at the highest accuracy of 81% with the most stable pattern being at around 70%. A widespread network encompassing frontal, parietal, occipital and cerebellar regions contributed towards diagnostic classification.
These findings provide an important step in the development of potential neuroimaging-based tools for diagnosis as they demonstrate that the identification of depression is feasible within a multi-ethnic group from the community.
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