The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays an essential role in mood regulation and integration of cognitive functions that are abnormal in major depressive disorder (MDD). Few neuroimaging studies have evaluated the still maturing DLPFC in depressed children and adolescents. We conducted single voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) of the left DLPFC in 14 depressed children and adolescents (13.3 ± 2.3 years old, 10 males) and 22 matched healthy controls (13.6 ± 2.8 years old, 13 males). Depressed subjects had significantly lower levels of glycerophosphocholine plus phosphocholine (GPC + PC; or choline-containing compounds) and higher myo-inositol levels in the left DLPFC compared to healthy controls. In the depressed subjects, we found significant inverse correlations between glutamate levels and both duration of illness and number of episodes. In healthy controls there was a significant direct correlation between age and glutamine levels, which was not present in the patient group. Lower GPC + PC levels in pediatric MDD may reflect lower cell membrane content per volume in the DLPFC. Increased myo-inositol levels in MDD may represent a disturbed secondary messenger system. GPC + PC and myo-inositol abnormalities further demonstrate the involvement of DLPFC in pediatric MDD.
- Choline-containing compounds
- Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
- Major depression
- Proton spectroscopy
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