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Imaging studies have shown that the subcallosal region (SCR) volume was decreased in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). However, whether the volumetric reductions in the SCR are due to thinning of the cortex or a loss of surface area (SA) remains unclear. In addition, the relationship between cortical measurements of the SCR and age through the adult life span in MDD remains unclear.
We used a cross-sectional design from 114 individuals with MDD and 112 matched healthy control (HC) individuals across the adult life span (range: 18–74 years). The mean cortical volume (CV), SA and cortical thickness (CT) of the SCR were computed using cortical parcellation based on FreeSurfer software. Multivariate analyses of covariance models were performed to compare differences between the MDD and HC groups on cortical measurements of the SCR. Multiple linear regression models were used to test age-by-group interaction effects on these cortical measurements of the SCR.
The MDD had significant reductions in the CV and SA of the left SCR compared with HC individuals after controlling of other variables. The left SCR CV and SA reductions compared with matched controls were observed only in early adulthood patients. We also found a significant age-related CT reduction in the SCR both in the MDD and HC participants.
The SCR volume reduction was mainly driven by SA in MDD. The different trajectories between the CT and SA of the SCR with age may provide valuable information to distinguish pathological processes and normal ageing in MDD.
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