Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 273–285 | Cite as

Molecular, Functional, and Structural Imaging of Major Depressive Disorder

  • Kai Zhang
  • Yunqi Zhu
  • Yuankai Zhu
  • Shuang Wu
  • Hao Liu
  • Wei Zhang
  • Caiyun Xu
  • Hong Zhang
  • Takuya HayashiEmail author
  • Mei TianEmail author


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, correlating with genetic susceptibility and environmental risk factors. Molecular, functional, and structural imaging approaches have been increasingly used to detect neurobiological changes, analyze neurochemical correlates, and parse pathophysiological mechanisms underlying MDD. We reviewed recent neuroimaging publications on MDD in terms of molecular, functional, and structural alterations as detected mainly by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography. Altered structure and function of brain regions involved in the cognitive control of affective state have been demonstrated. An abnormal default mode network, as revealed by resting-state functional MRI, is likely associated with aberrant metabolic and serotonergic function revealed by radionuclide imaging. Further multi-modal investigations are essential to clarify the characteristics of the cortical network and serotonergic system associated with behavioral and genetic variations in MDD.


Major depressive disorder Molecular imaging Positron emission tomography Magnetic resonance imaging Functional connectivity Serotonin 



Research in the corresponding author’s laboratory was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81425015 and 81271601), the International S&T Cooperation Program of China (2015DFG32740), and the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (LR13H180001).


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yunqi Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yuankai Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Shuang Wu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hao Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Wei Zhang
    • 5
  • Caiyun Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hong Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Takuya Hayashi
    • 6
    Email author
  • Mei Tian
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Nuclear MedicineThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang University Medical PET CenterHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular ImagingZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Imaging of Zhejiang ProvinceHangzhouChina
  5. 5.Department of OrthopedicsThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  6. 6.Functional Architecture Imaging UnitRIKEN Center for Life Science TechnologiesKobeJapan

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