Hippocampal subregions and networks linked with antidepressant response to electroconvulsive therapy

Amber M. Leaver*, Megha Vasavada, Antoni Kubicki, Benjamin Wade, Joana Loureiro, Gerhard Hellemann, Shantanu H. Joshi, Roger P. Woods, Randall Espinoza, Katherine L. Narr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been repeatedly linked to hippocampal plasticity. However, it remains unclear what role hippocampal plasticity plays in the antidepressant response to ECT. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study tracks changes in separate hippocampal subregions and hippocampal networks in patients with depression (n = 44, 23 female) to determine their relationship, if any, with improvement after ECT. Voxelwise analyses were restricted to the hippocampus, amygdala, and parahippocampal cortex, and applied separately for responders and nonresponders to ECT. In analyses of arterial spin-labeled (ASL) MRI, nonresponders exhibited increased cerebral blood flow (CBF) in bilateral anterior hippocampus, while responders showed CBF increases in right middle and left posterior hippocampus. In analyses of gray matter volume (GMV) using T1-weighted MRI, GMV increased throughout bilateral hippocampus and surrounding tissue in nonresponders, while responders showed increased GMV in right anterior hippocampus only. Using CBF loci as seed regions, BOLD-fMRI data from healthy controls (n = 36, 19 female) identified spatially separable neurofunctional networks comprised of different brain regions. In graph theory analyses of these networks, functional connectivity within a hippocampus-thalamus-striatum network decreased only in responders after two treatments and after index. In sum, our results suggest that the location of ECT-related plasticity within the hippocampus may differ according to antidepressant outcome, and that larger amounts of hippocampal plasticity may not be conducive to positive antidepressant response. More focused targeting of hippocampal subregions and/or circuits may be a way to improve ECT outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4288-4299
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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