Cortical thickness in major depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Neuroimaging studies assessing neurobiological differences between patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy controls (HC) are often hindered by small sample sizes and heterogeneity of the patient sample. We performed a comprehensive literature search for studies assessing cortical thickness between patient and control groups, including studies investigating treatment effects on cortical thickness. We identified 34 studies meeting criteria for the systematic review and used Seed-based d Mapping to meta-analyze 24 of those that met additional criteria. Analysis of the full sample of subjects (MDD = 1073; HC = 936) revealed significant thinning in the MDD group in the bilateral orbitofrontal gyrus (BA 11), left pars opercularis (BA 45) and left calcarine fissure/lingual gyrus (BA 17), as well as an area of significant thickening in the left supramarginal gyrus (BA 40). These results support other imaging modalities that report disruptions in various frontal and temporal areas in MDD and identify additional areas in all major cerebral lobes likely to be significant when parsing for biomarkers of treatment or relapse.HighlightsWe need informative neurobiological markers for major depressive disorder.Recent neuroimaging studies found differences in cortical thickness between groups.In MDD, we found cortical thinning in frontal and occipital regions (BA 11, 45, 17).There was cortical thickening in one parietal area (BA 40).Assessing multiple neurobiological parameters is recommended for future studies.

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