A preliminary study of functional connectivity in comorbid adolescent depression

Kathryn R. Cullen, Dylan G. Gee, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan, Vilma Gabbay, Leslie Hulvershorn, Bryon A. Mueller, Jazmin Camchong, Christopher J. Bell, Alaa Houri, Sanjiv Kumra, Kelvin O. Lim, F. Xavier Castellanos, Michael P. Milham

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190 Scopus citations


Major depressive disorder (MDD) begins frequently in adolescence and is associated with severe outcomes, but the developmental neurobiology of MDD is not well understood. Research in adults has implicated fronto-limbic neural networks in the pathophysiology of MDD, particularly in relation to the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Developmental changes in brain networks during adolescence highlight the need to examine MDD-related circuitry in teens separately from adults. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this study examined functional connectivity in adolescents with MDD (n = 12) and healthy adolescents (n = 14). Seed-based connectivity analysis revealed that adolescents with MDD have decreased functional connectivity in a subgenual ACC-based neural network that includes the supragenual ACC (BA 32), the right medial frontal cortex (BA 10), the left inferior (BA 47) and superior frontal cortex (BA 22), superior temporal gyrus (BA 22), and the insular cortex (BA 13). These preliminary data suggest that MDD in adolescence is associated with abnormal connectivity within neural circuits that mediate emotion processing. Future research in larger, un-medicated samples will be necessary to confirm this finding. We conclude that hypothesis-driven, seed-based analyses of resting state fMRI data hold promise for advancing our current understanding of abnormal development of neural circuitry in adolescents with MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-231
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 4 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the National Institute of Mental Health (Cullen: T32 MH073129; Gabbay: MH077072; Kumra: MH 073150; Lim: MH060662), the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (BTPRR-P41 RR008079 and P30 NS057091) at the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, Linda and Richard Schaps, and Jill and Bob Smith.


  • Adolescence
  • Brain imaging
  • Depression
  • Functional connectivity
  • Resting state functional MRI
  • Subgenual anterior cingulate cortex


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