Orbitofrontal cortex volumes in medication naïve children with major depressive disorder: A magnetic resonance imaging study

Hua Hsuan Chen, David R. Rosenberg, Frank P. MacMaster, Philip C. Easter, Sheila C. Caetano, Mark Nicoletti, John P. Hatch, Fabiano G. Nery, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: Adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) are reported to have reduced orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) volumes, which could be related to decreased neuronal density. We conducted a study on medication naïve children with MDD to determine whether abnormalities of OFC are present early in the illness course. Methods: Twenty seven medication naïve pediatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) MDD patients (mean age ± SD = 14.4 ± 2.2 years; 10 males) and 26 healthy controls (mean age ± SD = 14.4 ± 2.4 years; 12 males) underwent a 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with 3D spoiled gradient recalled acquisition. The OFC volumes were compared using analysis of covariance with age, gender, and total brain volume as covariates. Results: There was no significant difference in either total OFC volume or total gray matter OFC volume between MDD patients and healthy controls. Exploratory analysis revealed that patients had unexpectedly larger total right lateral (F = 4.2, df = 1, 48, p = 0.05) and right lateral gray matter (F = 4.6, df = 1, 48, p = 0.04) OFC volumes compared to healthy controls, but this finding was not significant following statistical correction for multiple comparisons. No other OFC subregions showed a significant difference. Conclusions: The lack of OFC volume abnormalities in pediatric MDD patients suggests the abnormalities previously reported for adults may develop later in life as a result of neural cell loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-556
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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