Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Disorder-specific volumetric brain difference in adolescent major depressive disorder and bipolar depression

  • Frank P. MacMaster
  • Normand Carrey
  • Lisa Marie Langevin
  • Natalia Jaworska
  • Susan Crawford
Original Research


Structural abnormalities in frontal, limbic and subcortical regions have been noted in adults with both major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). In the current study, we examined regional brain morphology in youth with MDD and BD as compared to controls. Regional brain volumes were measured in 32 MDD subjects (15.7 ± 2.1 years), 14 BD subjects (16.0 ± 2.4 years) and 22 healthy controls (16.0 ± 2.8 years) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Regions of interest included the hippocampus, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), caudate, putamen and thalamus. Volumetric differences between groups were significant (F26,80 = 1.80, p = 0.02). Post-hoc analyses indicated that individuals with MDD showed reduced left hippocampus volumes (p = 0.048) as well as right ACC white and gray matter volumes (p = 0.003; p = 0.01) compared to controls. BD participants also displayed reduced left hippocampal and right/left putamen volumes compared to controls (p < 0.001; p = 0.015; p = 0.046 respectively). Interestingly, right and left ACC white matter volumes were smaller in MDD than in BD participants (p = 0.019; p = 0.045 respectively). No volumetric group differences were observed for the DLPFC and thalamus. Discriminant analysis was able to correctly classify 81.0 % of subjects as having BD or as MDD based on imaging data. Confirmation and extension of our findings requires larger sample sizes. Our findings provide new evidence of distinct, specific regional brain volumetric differences between MDD and BD that may be used to distinguish the two disorders.


Adolescent Basal ganglia Bipolar Depression Anterior cingulate cortex Hippocampus Putamen 



The authors would like to acknowledge Vivek Kusumakar, MD (1951–2009) for his contribution to the study. Dr. MacMaster received support for this research in part from the Cuthbertson and Fischer Chair in Paediatric Mental Health, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and the University of Calgary.

Conflict of Interest

No authors of this manuscript have fees and grants from, employment by, consultancy for, shared ownership in, or any close relationship with, an organization whose interests, financial or otherwise, may be affected by the publication of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank P. MacMaster
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  • Normand Carrey
    • 5
  • Lisa Marie Langevin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Natalia Jaworska
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Susan Crawford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & EducationCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child & Maternal HealthCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Hotchkiss Brain InstituteCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  6. 6.Cuthbertson and Fischer Chair in Paediatric Mental Health, Departments of Psychiatry and PaediatricsUniversity of Calgary, Behavioral Research Unit, Alberta Children’s HospitalCalgaryCanada

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