Cortisol is not associated with pre-treatment medial temporal lobe volume or volume changes after electroconvulsive therapy in patients with late-life depression
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Accumulating evidence suggests that late-life depression is associated with reduced hippocampal volume and that cortisol might be related to this volumetric reduction. We explored whether cortisol awaking response (CAR), which is the increase in cortisol after awakening, was associated with volumetric changes in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in 41 patients (age ≥ 55) treated for major depressive disorder (MDD) with ECT. Cortisol was measured before the start of the ECT treatment and was related to MTL volumes derived from structural T1-weighted images. The study assessed associations between CAR and pre-treatment MTL volumes, and CAR and ECT-induced MTL volumetric changes. There were no significant correlations found between CAR, operationalized as Area Under the Curve with respect to ground (AUCg) and Area Under the Curve with respect to increase (AUCi), and pre-treatment MTL volumes. Neither was there an association between AUCg or AUCi and the ECT-induced changes in MTL volumes after correction for multiple comparisons. Finally, neither AUCg or AUCi were able to predict ECT-induced volumetric changes in the MTL. Hence, we conclude that CAR is unrelated to pre-treatment hippocampus and amygdala volumes, and to the volumetric changes in the aforementioned areas following ECT.