Background: Pretreatment brain activity in major depressive disorder correlates with response to antidepressant therapies, including pharmacotherapies and transcranial magnetic stimulation. The purpose of this trial was to examine whether pretreatment regional metabolic activity in selected regions of interest (ROIs) predicts antidepressant response following 12 months of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) in 15 patients with treatment-resistant major depression (TRMD). Methods: Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) was used to assess regional mean relative cerebral metabolic rate for glucose (CMRGlu) in four ROIs (anterior insular, orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices) at baseline (prior to VNS activation). Depression severity was assessed at baseline and after 12 months of VNS using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), with response defined as ≥ 50% reduction in HDRS from baseline. Results: Baseline CMRGlu in the anterior insular cortex differentiated VNS responders (n = 11) from nonresponders (n = 4) and correlated with HDRS change (r =.64, p =.01). In a regression analysis, lower anterior insular cortex CMRGlu (p =.004) and higher orbitofrontal cortex CMRGlu (p =.047) together predicted HDRS change (R2 =.58, p =.005). In a whole brain, voxel-wise analysis, baseline CMRGlu in the right anterior insular cortex correlated with HDRS change (r =.78, p =.001). Limitations: Sample size was small, limiting statistical power; patients remained on their psychiatric medications; study was open-label and uncontrolled. Conclusions: This preliminary study suggests that pretreatment regional CMRGlu may be useful in predicting response to VNS in TRMD patients.
- Fluorodeoxyglucose PET
- Positron emission tomography
- Treatment response
- Treatment-resistant depression
- Vagus nerve stimulation