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Can Neurophysiologic Measures Serve as Biomarkers for the Efficacy of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder?. [Review]

Kobayashi B; Cook IA; Hunter AM; Minzenberg MJ; Krantz DE; Leuchter AF.

International Review of Psychiatry. 29(2):98-114, 2017 Apr.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an effective treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). There are clinical data that support the efficacy of many different approaches to rTMS treatment, and it remains unclear what combination of stimulation parameters is optimal to relieve depressive symptoms. Because of the costs and complexity of studies that would be necessary to explore and compare the large number of combinations of rTMS treatment parameters, it would be useful to establish reliable surrogate biomarkers of treatment efficacy that could be used to compare different approaches to treatment. This study reviews the evidence that neurophysiologic measures of cortical excitability could be used as biomarkers for screening different rTMS treatment paradigms. It examines evidence that: (1) changes in excitability are related to the mechanism of action of rTMS; (2) rTMS has consistent effects on measures of excitability that could constitute reliable biomarkers; and (3) changes in excitability are related to the outcomes of rTMS treatment of MDD. An increasing body of evidence indicates that these neurophysiologic measures have the potential to serve as reliable biomarkers for screening different approaches to rTMS treatment of MDD.