Individuals with s/s genotype of serotonin transporter gene-linked promotor region (5-HTTLPR), which appear with a high frequency in Japanese, exhibit more diagnosable depression in relation to stressful life events than those with the s/l or l/l genotype. We prospectively investigated the brain volume changes in first-episode and medication naïve major depression disorder patients (MDD) with the s/s genotype in Japanese. We assessed the differences between 27 MDD with the s/s genotype and 44 healthy subjects (HS) with the same genotype using a whole-brain voxel-by-voxel statistical analysis of MRI. Gray matter volume in a brain region with significant clusters obtained via voxel-based morphometry analysis were measured and, as an exploratory analysis, evaluated for relationships to the subcategory scores (core, sleep, activity, psychic, somatic anxiety, delusion) of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) and the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS). The brain volume in the left insula lobe was significantly smaller in the MDD than in the HS. The left insula lobe volume correlated negatively with the "psychic" score of HAM-D and the SRRS. In a Japanese population with the s/s genotype, we found an atrophy of the insula in the MDD, which might be associated with "psychic" symptom and stress events.
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