Electroconvulsive therapy mediates neuroplasticity of white matter microstructure in major depression

H. Lyden, R. T. Espinoza, T. Pirnia, K. Clark, S. H. Joshi, A. M. Leaver, R. P. Woods, K. L. Narr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

Whether plasticity of white matter (WM) microstructure relates to therapeutic response in major depressive disorder (MDD) remains uncertain. We examined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) correlates of WM structural connectivity in patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a rapidly acting treatment for severe MDD. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) applied to DTI data (61 directions, 2.5 mm 3 voxel size) targeted voxel-level changes in fractional anisotropy (FA), and radial (RD), axial (AD) and mean diffusivity (MD) in major WM pathways in MDD patients (n=20, mean age: 41.15 years, 10.32 s.d.) scanned before ECT, after their second ECT and at transition to maintenance therapy. Comparisons made at baseline with demographically similar controls (n=28, mean age: 39.42 years, 12.20 s.d.) established effects of diagnosis. Controls were imaged twice to estimate scanning-related variance. Patients showed significant increases of FA in dorsal fronto-limbic circuits encompassing the anterior cingulum, forceps minor and left superior longitudinal fasciculus between baseline and transition to maintenance therapy (P<0.05, corrected). Decreases in RD and MD were observed in overlapping regions and the anterior thalamic radiation (P<0.05, corrected). Changes in DTI metrics associated with therapeutic response in tracts showing significant ECT effects differed between patients and controls. All measures remained stable across time in controls. Altered WM microstructure in pathways connecting frontal and limbic areas occur in MDD, are modulated by ECT and relate to therapeutic response. Increased FA together with decreased MD and RD, which trend towards normative values with treatment, suggest increased fiber integrity in dorsal fronto-limbic pathways involved in mood regulation.c

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere380
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 8 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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