Decreased Hippocampus Volume Found in Depressed Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

The volume of the hippocampus region of the brain has been linked to cognitive functioning, memory and mood regulation. “More than 30 cross-sectional MRI studies have examined hippocampus volumes in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), and several meta-analyses have confirmed that hippocampal volume is about 5%– 8% smaller in patients with major depression than in healthy controls,” said Gevrey Kiy of the Department of Neurology at Klinikum Bremen-Mitte in Germany. Manual tracing, a method of measuring hippocampal volume, has yet to accurately demonstrate a link between hippocampal volume and cognitive functioning in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). “This is somewhat surprising, because memory impairment is a core element of cognitive dysfunctioning in MS; it has been estimated that about 40% of MS patients suffers from deficits in this cognitive domain.” Kiy added, “Manual tracing is necessary because the hippocampus is a cortical structure showing only graded grey differences in relation to surrounding structures and having no clear-cut borders in the posterior direction. On the other hand, because memory impairment and depression play a crucial role for the quality of life in MS patients, including work employment, it would be helpful to have a quick and relatively easy neuro-radiological evaluation in addition to the neuropsychological assessment.”

To identify the link between hippocampal volume and depression in people with MS, Kiy performed MRI’s on 72 clients with MS, and looked specifically at the left and right temporal horn regions. The results demonstrated a decreased hippocampal volume in the left temporal horn of the clients with depressive symptoms. But Kiy added, “The role of the hippocampus in depression is still under debate. For example, it is not clear whether the shrinking of its volume is a cause of the depression or a consequence of stress induced by depressive mood, because there are several other mental diseases, also associated with stress, that consequently should also be accompanied with a decrease in hippocampal volume, which has not been shown yet.” Kiy recognizes that the results warrant further research, but is optimistic. “In conclusion, this study indicates that an indirect measurement of hippocampal volume is associated with depression in MS patients.”

Kiy, Gevrey, Pia Lehmann, Horst K. Hahn, Paul Eling, Andreas Kastrup, and Helmut Hildebrandt. “Decreased Hippocampal Volume, Indirectly Measured, Is Associated with Depressive Symptoms and Consolidation Deficits in Multiple Sclerosis.” Multiple Sclerosis Journal 17.9 (2011): 1088-097. Print.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Stacey


    November 4th, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    This one little deficiency along with the sadness that MS alone brings really probably brings a lot of patients down. Even more of an obstacle for these patients to withstand.

  • Meg Dodson

    Meg Dodson

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    The diseases that affect the brain the worst are the ones that have effects that can be seen aren’t they? Killing off chunks of the brain and reducing its size, along with its power, is devastating for anyone. The brain is simply not equipped to take any damage, hence why we evolved with it being surrounded by more hard protective bone than any other organ.

  • Chance Logan

    Chance Logan

    November 5th, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    @Stacey -I don’t see why. We only use 10% of our brain’s capacity so that much reduction shouldn’t be that harmful. Our brains can take a gigantic beating, more than you would imagine. There’s a guy who took a bullet at close range, blew off half his head, and he’s still going strong but now he can brag about using 20% of his brain.

  • Marc Contreras

    Marc Contreras

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    @Chance Logan: No, you use 10% of your brain, not the rest of the population-just you. That’s a myth and spreading the misconception, especially on an article where reduced volume is being shown to have an effect on the brain, is quite ignorant of you. So is making light of such a dire injury.

    Shame on you. I hope you and no-one in your family ever has to suffer such an awful injury.

  • Naomi Ewing

    Naomi Ewing

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    You don’t even have to have suffered a traumatic injury. Some people are simply born that way or suffer from a disease yet go on to live full and productive lives. Simply Google “half a brain” to see for yourself real-life examples. It’s miraculous how resilient we are!

  • Leo McDonald

    Leo McDonald

    November 5th, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    MS is such a horrible disease. I know a young woman with it who is very intelligent and funny, and sadly because of MS can’t feed herself. It’s tragic. For her it took ages to be properly diagnosed because it developed very slowly, and not all symptoms showed themselves closely together enough for the doctors to connect the dots.

  • Diana


    November 6th, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    So not only does it cause damage in the mental sense but also starts to destroy the brain physically? Sounds horrible.

    And what really leads to the other-MS leads to the reduced volume or is it the other way around?

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