Volumetric alterations in subregions of the amygdala in adults with major depressive disorder

Hyeyoung Kim, Kyu Man Han, Kwan Woo Choi, Woo Suk Tae, Wooyoung Kang, Youbin Kang, Aram Kim, Byung Joo Ham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with volumetric abnormalities in the amygdala, studies investigating the association between structural alterations of the amygdala and depression have yielded varying results. Since the amygdala comprises several subregions, it is difficult to detect subtle regional changes by measuring the total amygdala volume. This study aimed to examine the volume in each amygdala subregion in adults with and without a diagnosis of MDD. Methods: A total of 147 participants with a current history of major depression and 144 healthy participants ranging in age from 19 to 64 years underwent 3T magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Automatic segmentation of the nine nuclei of the amygdala was performed using FreeSurfer. One-way analysis of covariance, with individual volumes as dependent variables, and age, sex, and total intracranial volume as covariates, was performed to analyze volume differences. Results: Patients with MDD had significantly lower volumes of the entire amygdala and subregions, including the lateral nucleus and anterior amygdaloid area, than healthy volunteers (HCs). There were no significant associations between subregion volumes and antidepressant use, illness duration, or depression severity. Limitations: Our cross-sectional design cannot provide a causal relationship between the volume change in the amygdala subregion and the risk of MDD. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that specific amygdala subregions are more susceptible to volumetric alterations in patients with MDD than in HCs. These findings may advance our understanding of the neuroanatomic basis on MDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology ( NRF-2020M3E5D9080792 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Amygdala
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Subregion morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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