It is thought that the hippocampal neurogenesis is an important mediator of the antidepressant effect of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, most previous studies failed to demonstrate the relationship between the increase in the hippocampal volume and the antidepressant effect. We reinvestigated this relationship by looking at distinct hippocampal subregions and applying repeated measures correlation. Using a 3 Tesla MRI-scanner, we scanned 22 severely depressed in-patients at three time points: before the ECT series, after the series, and at six-month follow-up. The depression severity was assessed by the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD-17). The hippocampus was segmented into subregions using Freesurfer software. The dentate gyrus (DG) was the primary region of interest (ROI), due to the role of this region in neurogenesis. The other major hippocampal subregions were the secondary ROIs (n = 20). The general linear mixed model and the repeated measures correlation were used for statistical analyses. Immediately after the ECT series, a significant volume increase was present in the right DG (Cohen's d = 1.7) and the left DG (Cohen's d = 1.5), as well as 15 out of 20 secondary ROIs. The clinical improvement, i.e., the decrease in HAMD-17 score, was correlated to the increase in the right DG volume (r rm = −0.77, df = 20, p <.001), and the left DG volume (r rm = −0.75, df = 20, p <.001). Similar correlations were observed in 14 out of 20 secondary ROIs. Thus, ECT induces an increase not only in the volume of the DG, but also in the volume of other major hippocampal subregions. The volumetric increases may reflect a neurobiological process that may be related to the ECT's antidepressant effect. Further investigation of the relationship between hippocampal subregions and the antidepressant effect is warranted. A statistical approach taking the repeated measurements into account should be preferred in the analyses.

TidsskriftProgress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry
StatusUdgivet - 10 jan. 2021


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