Altered white matter volumes in first-episode depression: Evidence from cross-sectional and longitudinal voxel-based analyses

M. Carceller-Sindreu, M. Serra-Blasco, J. de Diego-Adeliño, Y. Vives-Gilabert, M. Vicent-Gil, E. Via, D. Puigdemont, E. Álvarez, V. Pérez, M. J. Portella

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is accompanied by atypical brain structure affecting grey and white matter from the early stages. Neuroimaging studies of first-episode depression (FED) have provided evidence on this regard, but most of the studies are cross-sectional. The aim of this longitudinal study was to test potential changes in grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes in FED. Methods: Thirty-three untreated FED patients (DSM-IV criteria) and 33 healthy controls (HC) underwent a 3T structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) at baseline and after 2 years. Depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and throughout the study with the 17-item Hamilton Depressive Rating Scale (HDRS-17). Recurrences of FED patients were also collected along the follow-up. To analyze GM and WM differences, whole-brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM, SPM12) was employed (FWE corrected). Results: FED patients showed significant reductions compared to HC in WM volumes of prefrontal cortex (left anterior corona radiata). No differences were found in GM volumes. Full factorial longitudinal analysis of the whole sample revealed no significant effect in GM nor in WM, while the full factorial longitudinal analysis comparing recurrent and non-recurrent patients showed increments in WM volumes of left posterior corona radiata and right posterior thalamic radiation in the recurrent group. Limitations: Limited sample size, especially in the follow-up. Conclusions: The present findings provided some new evidence of the role of white matter alterations in the early stages of MDD and in the progression of the illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-977
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019


  • First-episode depression
  • Grey matter
  • Major depressive disorder
  • sMRI
  • White matter


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