Baseline Clinical and Neuroimaging Biomarkers of Treatment Response to High-Frequency rTMS Over the Left DLPFC for Resistant Depression

SOURCE: Frontiers in Psychiatry. 13 (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 894473.


AUTHORS: Harika-Germaneau G.; Wassouf I.; Le Tutour T.; Guillevin R.; Doolub D.; Rostami R.; Delbreil A.; Langbour N.; Jaafari N.

BACKGROUND: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has proven to be an efficient treatment option for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, the success rate of this method is still low, and the treatment outcome is unpredictable. The objective of this study was to explore clinical and structural neuroimaging factors as potential biomarkers of the efficacy of high-frequency (HF) rTMS (20 Hz) over the left dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex (DLPFC).

METHOD(S): We analyzed the records of 131 patients with mood disorders who were treated with rTMS and were assessed at baseline at the end of the stimulation and at 1 month after the end of the treatment. The response is defined as a 50% decrease in the MADRS score between the first and the last assessment. Each of these patients underwent a T1 MRI scan of the brain, which was subsequently segmented with FreeSurfer. Whole-brain analyses [Query, Design, Estimate, Contrast (QDEC)] were conducted and corrected for multiple comparisons. Additionally, the responder status was also analyzed using binomial multivariate regression models. The explored variables were clinical and anatomical features of the rTMS target obtained from T1 MRI: target-scalp distance, DLPFC gray matter thickness, and various cortical measures of interest previously studied.

RESULT(S): The results of a binomial multivariate regression model indicated that depression type (p =
0.025), gender (p = 0.010), and the severity of depression (p = 0.027) were found to be associated with response to rTMS. Additionally, the resistance stage showed a significant trend (p = 0.055). Whole-brain analyses on volume revealed that the average volume of the left part of the superior frontal and the caudal middle frontal regions is associated with the response status. Other MRI-based measures are not significantly associated with response to rTMS in our population.

CONCLUSION(S): In this study, we investigated the clinical and neuroimaging biomarkers associated with responsiveness to high-frequency rTMS over the left DLPFC in a large sample of patients with TRD. Women, patients with bipolar depressive disorder (BDD), and patients who are less resistant to HF rTMS respond better. Responders present a lower volume of the left part of the superior frontal gyrus and the caudal middle frontal gyrus. These findings support further investigation into the use of clinical variables and structural MRI as possible biomarkers of rTMS treatment response.