Peripheral telomere length and hippocampal volume in adolescents with major depressive disorder

E. Henje Blom, L. K.M. Han, C. G. Connolly, T. C. Ho, J. Lin, K. Z. LeWinn, A. N. Simmons, M. D. Sacchet, N. Mobayed, M. E. Luna, M. Paulus, E. S. Epel, E. H. Blackburn, O. M. Wolkowitz, T. T. Yang

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Several studies have reported that adults with major depressive disorder have shorter telomere length and reduced hippocampal volumes. Moreover, studies of adult populations without major depressive disorder suggest a relationship between peripheral telomere length and hippocampal volume. However, the relationship of these findings in adolescents with major depressive disorder has yet to be explored. We examined whether adolescent major depressive disorder is associated with altered peripheral telomere length and hippocampal volume, and whether these measures relate to one another. In 54 unmedicated adolescents (13- 18 years) with major depressive disorder and 63 well-matched healthy controls, telomere length was assessed from saliva using quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods, and bilateral hippocampal volumes were measured with magnetic resonance imaging. After adjusting for age and sex (and total brain volume in the hippocampal analysis), adolescents with major depressive disorder exhibited significantly shorter telomere length and significantly smaller right, but not left hippocampal volume. When corrected for age, sex, diagnostic group and total brain volume, telomere length was not significantly associated with left or right hippocampal volume, suggesting that these cellular and neural processes may be mechanistically distinct during adolescence. Our findings suggest that shortening of telomere length and reduction of hippocampal volume are already present in early-onset major depressive disorder and thus unlikely to be only a result of accumulated years of exposure to major depressive disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA172
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2015

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