Date: 20 Jul 2013

Pretreatment anterior cingulate activity predicts antidepressant treatment response in major depressive episodes

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Abstract

Major depressive disorder leads to substantial individual and socioeconomic costs. Despite the ongoing efforts to improve the treatment for this condition, a trial-and-error approach until an individually effective treatment is established still dominates clinical practice. Searching for clinically useful treatment response predictors is one of the most promising strategies to change this quandary therapeutic situation. This study evaluated the predictive value of a biological and a clinical predictor, as well as a combination of both. Pretreatment EEGs of 31 patients with a major depressive episode were analyzed with neuroelectric brain imaging technique to assess cerebral oscillations related to treatment response. Early improvement of symptoms served as a clinical predictor. Treatment response was assessed after 4 weeks of antidepressant treatment. Responders showed more slow-frequency power in the right anterior cingulate cortex compared to non-responders. Slow-frequency power in this region was found to predict response with good sensitivity (82 %) and specificity (100 %), while early improvement showed lower accuracy (73 % sensitivity and 65 % specificity). Combining both parameters did not further improve predictive accuracy. Pretreatment activity within the anterior cingulate cortex is related to antidepressive treatment response. Our results support the search for biological treatment response predictors using electric brain activity. This technique is advantageous due to its low individual and socioeconomic burden. The benefits of combining both, a clinically and a biologically based predictor, should be further evaluated using larger sample sizes.