Metabolic activity in subcallosal cingulate predicts response to deep brain stimulation for depression

Elliot C. Brown, Darren L. Clark, Nils D. Forkert, Christine P. Molnar, Zelma H.T. Kiss, Rajamannar Ramasubbu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Subcallosal cingulate (SCC) deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising therapy for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), but response rates in open-label studies were not replicated in a large multicenter trial. Identifying biomarkers of response could improve patient selection and outcomes. We examined SCC metabolic activity as both a predictor and marker of SCC DBS treatment response. Brain glucose metabolism (CMRGlu) was measured with [18F] FDG-PET at baseline and 6 months post DBS in 20 TRD patients in a double-blind randomized controlled trial where two stimulation types (long pulse width (LPW) n = 9 and short pulse width (SPW) n = 11) were used. Responders (n = 10) were defined by a ≥48% reduction in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores after 6 months. The response rates were similar with five responders in each stimulation group: LPW (55.6%) and SPW (44.5%). First, differences in SCC CMRGlu in responders and non-responders were compared at baseline. Then machine learning analysis was performed with a leave-one-out cross-validation using a Gaussian naive Bayes classifier to test whether baseline CMRGlu in SCC could categorize responders. Finally, we compared 6-month change in metabolic activity with change in depression severity. All analyses were controlled for age. Baseline SCC CMRGlu was significantly higher in responders than non-responders. The machine learning analysis predicted response with 80% accuracy. Furthermore, reduction in SCC CMRGlu 6 months post DBS correlated with symptom improvement (r(17) = 0.509; p = 0.031). This is the first evidence of an image-based treatment selection biomarker that predicts SCC DBS response. Future studies could utilize SCC metabolic activity for prospective patient selection.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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