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Previous studies have demonstrated structural and functional changes of the hippocampus in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). However, no studies have analyzed the dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) of hippocampal subregions in melancholic MDD. We aimed to reveal the patterns for dFC variability in hippocampus subregions – including the bilateral rostral and caudal areas and its associations with cognitive impairment in melancholic MDD.
Forty-two treatment-naive MDD patients with melancholic features and 55 demographically matched healthy controls were included. The sliding-window analysis was used to evaluate whole-brain dFC for each hippocampal subregions seed. We assessed between-group differences in the dFC variability values of each hippocampal subregion in the whole brain and cognitive performance on the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). Finally, association analysis was conducted to investigate their relationships.
Patients with melancholic MDD showed decreased dFC variability between the left rostral hippocampus and left anterior lobe of cerebellum compared with healthy controls (voxel p < 0.005, cluster p < 0.0125, GRF corrected), and poorer cognitive scores in working memory, verbal learning, visual learning, and social cognition (all p < 0.05). Association analysis showed that working memory was positively correlated with the dFC variability values of the left rostral hippocampus-left anterior lobe of the cerebellum (r = 0.338, p = 0.029) in melancholic MDD.
These findings confirmed the distinct dynamic functional pathway of hippocampal subregions in patients with melancholic MDD, and suggested that the dysfunction of hippocampus-cerebellum connectivity may be underlying the neural substrate of working memory impairment in melancholic MDD.
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