Psychopharmacology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 383–389

Prefrontal cortical hypometabolism during low-dose interferon alpha treatment

  • Freimut D. Juengling
  • Dieter Ebert
  • Oliver Gut
  • Marc A. Engelbrecht
  • J. Rasenack
  • Egbert U. Nitzsche
  • Joachim Bauer
  • Klaus Lieb
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s002130000549

Cite this article as:
Juengling, F., Ebert, D., Gut, O. et al. Psychopharmacology (2000) 152: 383. doi:10.1007/s002130000549

Abstract.

Objective: To evaluate prospectively interferon alpha (IFN-α) associated effects on cerebral glucose metabolism and its correlation to neuropsychiatric symptoms during low-dose IFN-α-treatment. Methods: Eleven patients treated with low-dose IFN-α for chronic hepatitis C were prospectively evaluated by neuropsychiatric tests and cerebral [18F]deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) before and in the 12th week of treatment. PET images were spatially normalized, corrected for variance in global activity and pixel-based t-statistics were calculated for each set of PET scans using SPM96 software. Pixel-cluster with P<0.001 for hypo- or hypermetabolism were displayed in parametric images. Covariance analysis with neuropsychiatric tests was calculated for each cluster. Results: In week 12 of IFN-α treatment, significant hypometabolism with a decrease of local activity ranging from 8 to 12% was found in all patients bilaterally in the prefrontal cortex (BA 9), which correlated in a covariate analysis with changes in depression score as measured by Beck's Depression Inventory. Additionally, hypermetabolism with a maximum increase in local activity of 6–8% was seen in all patients in putamina as well as the left occipital region (BA 18). Before IFN-α treatment, only 1/11 patient showed depressive symptomatology. After 3 months of treatment, 6/11 patients were classified as having mild to moderate depressive symptoms (P<0.1; Wilcoxon test). Conclusions: Low-dose IFN-α therapy is associated with significant prefrontal hypometabolism. This hypometabolism covaried with depression score, but was even found in clinically non-depressed patients. These findings may reflect a possible predisposing factor for IFN-α associated neuropsychiatric syndromes and might contribute to a pathophysiological model of affective disorders, as endogenous IFN-α levels are elevated in a subset of psychotic patients during acute disease.

Interferon PET Depression Brain metabolism Statistical parametric mapping Neuropsychological tests

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Freimut D. Juengling
    • 1
  • Dieter Ebert
    • 2
  • Oliver Gut
    • 2
  • Marc A. Engelbrecht
    • 2
  • J. Rasenack
    • 3
  • Egbert U. Nitzsche
    • 1
  • Joachim Bauer
    • 4
  • Klaus Lieb
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Freiburg, Hugstetter Strasse 55, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg, Hauptstrasse 5, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
  3. 3.Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Freiburg, Hugstetter Strasse 55, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
  4. 4.Section of Psychosomatics and Liaison Psychiatry, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Freiburg, Hugstetter Strasse 55, 79106 Freiburg, Germany