Regional cerebral glucose utilization in patients with a range of severities of unipolar depression

Tim A. Kimbrell, Terence A. Ketter, Mark S. George, John T. Little, Brenda E. Benson, Mark W. Willis, Peter Herscovitch, Robert M. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

220 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with unipolar depression are most often reported to have decreased regional cerebral glucose metabolism (rCMRglu) in dorsal prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices compared with healthy control subjects, often correlating inversely with severity of depression. Methods: We measured rCMRglu with fluorine-18 deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET) in 38 medication-free patients with unipolar depression and 37 healthy control subjects performing an auditory continuous performance task to further investigate potential prefrontal and anterior paralimbic rCMRglu abnormalities in patients attending to this task. Results: Compared with control subjects, the subgroup of patients with Hamilton depression scores of 22 or greater demonstrated decreased absolute rCMRglu in right prefrontal cortex and paralimbic/amygdala regions as well as bilaterally in the insula and temporoparietal cortex (right > left); they also exhibited increased normalized metabolic activity bilaterally in the cerebellum, lingula/cuneus, and brain stem. Severity of depression negatively correlated with absolute rCMRglu in almost the entire extent of the right cingulate cortex as well as bilaterally in prefrontal cortex, insula, basal ganglia, and temporoparietal cortex (right > left). Conclusions: Areas of frontal, cingulate, insula, and temporal cortex appear hypometabolic in association with different components of the severity and course of illness in treatment-resistant unipolar depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-252
Number of pages16
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2002


  • Cingulate
  • Depression
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Severity
  • Unipolar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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