Decreased interhemispheric resting-state functional connectivity in first-episode, drug-naive major depressive disorder

Wenbin Guo, Feng Liu, Yi Dai, Muliang Jiang, Jian Zhang, Liuyu Yu, Liling Long, Huafu Chen, Qing Gao, Changqing Xiao
Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 2013 March 5, 41: 24-9

BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is shown to have structural and functional abnormalities in specific brain areas and connections by recent neuroimaging studies. However, little is known about the alterations of the interhemispheric resting-state functional connectivity (FC) in patients with MDD. In the present study, we used a newly developed voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC) method to investigate the interhemispheric FC of the whole brain in patients with MDD at rest.

METHODS: Twenty-four first-episode, drug-naive patients with MDD and 24 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy subjects underwent a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). An automated VMHC approach was used to analyze the data.

RESULTS: Patients with MDD showed lower VMHC than healthy subjects in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus (PCC/PCu), two core regions within default mode network (DMN). Both left and right MPFC showed reduced FC with the other frontal areas and with right anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC), while PCC/PCu exhibited abnormal FC with the frontal areas and thalamus in patient group. Significant positive correlation was observed between VMHC in MPFC and persistent error response of Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST-Pre) in patients. Further ROC analysis revealed that VMHC in the MPFC and PCC/PCu could be used to differentiate the patients from healthy subjects with relatively high sensitivity and specificity.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that decreased VMHC in brain regions within DMN may underlie the pathogenesis of MDD.

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