ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (10): 1763-1774.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01763

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Hypothalamic Abnormalities and Major Depressive Disorder

WANG Xiaole; WANG Donglin   

  1. (Center for Cognition and Brain Disorder, Hangzhou Normal University;
    Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Research in Assessment of Cognitive Impairments, Hangzhou 311121, China)
  • Received:2015-01-14 Online:2015-10-15 Published:2015-10-15
  • Contact: WANG Donglin, E-mail:


Recent studies of depression model animals or patients with major depressive disorders have found substantial evidence of hypothalamic abnormalities, such as changes in the hypothalamus volume and the number of neurons, dysfunctions in hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis, hypothalamic-related hormone, receptors and their genes, neuropeptides, and alterations in the connectivity between hypothalamus and other brain regions. Most of this evidence, however, was obtained either from animal experiments, from indirect clinical indicators (such as peripheral blood hormone levels, etc.), or from brain autopsies of patients with depression. No direct evidence for abnormal hypothalamus in depressive disorders has been confirmed in vivo in humans. Future studies may use brain imaging methods to more directly explore the structural and functional characteristics of abnormal hypothalamus in depressed patients. The resulting biomarkers, along with measurements of their reliability, can provide the basis for objective diagnosis, and lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of depressive disorders.

Key words: major depressive disorder, hypothalamus, objective diagnosis, pathogenesis