Frontal white matter architecture predicts efficacy of deep brain stimulation in major depression

Volker A. Coenen, Thomas E. Schlaepfer, Bettina Bewernick, Hannah Kilian, Christoph P. Kaller, Horst Urbach, Meng Li, Marco Reisert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Major depression is a frequent and severe disorder, with a combination of psycho- and pharmacotherapy most patients can be treated. However, ~20% of all patients suffering from major depressive disorder remain treatment resistant; a subgroup might be treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). We present two trials of DBS to the superolateral medial forebrain bundle (slMFB DBS; FORESEE I and II). The goal was to identify informed features that allow to predict treatment response. Data from N = 24 patients were analyzed. Preoperative imaging including anatomical sequences (T1 and T2) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) magnetic resonance imaging sequences were used together with postoperative helical CT scans (for DBS electrode position). Pathway activation modeling (PAM) as well as preoperative structural imaging and morphometry was used to understand the response behavior of patients (MADRS). A left fronto-polar and partly orbitofrontal region was identified that showed increased volume in preoperative anatomical scans. Further statistical analysis shows that the volume of this “HUB-region” is predictive for later MADRS response from DBS. The HUB region connects to typical fiber pathways that have been addressed before in therapeutic DBS in major depression. Left frontal volume growth might indicate intrinsic activity upon disconnection form the main emotional network. The results are significant since for the first time we found an informed feature that might allow to identify and phenotype future responders for slMFB DBS. This is a clear step into the direction of personalized treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number197
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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