Järnum H, Eskildsen SF, Steffensen EG, Lundbye-Christensen S, Simonsen CW, Thomsen IS, Fründ E-T, Théberge J, Larsson E-M. Longitudinal MRI study of cortical thickness, perfusion, and metabolite levels in major depressive disorder.
Objective: To determine whether patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) display morphologic, functional, and metabolic brain abnormalities in limbic-cortical regions at a baseline magnetic resonance (MR) scan and whether these changes are normalized in MDD patients in remission at a follow-up scan.
Method: A longitudinal 3.0-Tesla (T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study was carried out with cortical thickness measurements with a surface-based approach, perfusion measurements with three-dimensional (3D) pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL), and spectroscopy (1H-MRS) measurements in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) with water as an internal reference adjusted for cerebrospinal fluid content. We examined 23 MDD patients and 26 healthy controls. MDD patients underwent a baseline MRI at inclusion and were invited to a follow-up scan when they were in remission or after a 6-month follow-up period.
Results: Major findings were a significantly thinner posterior cingulate cortex in non-remitters than in remitters, a significant decrease in perfusion in the frontal lobes and the ACC in non-remitters compared with healthy controls at baseline and significantly reduced N-acetylaspartate, myo-inositol, and glutamate levels in MDD patients compared with healthy controls at baseline.
Conclusion: Using novel MRI techniques, we have found abnormalities in cerebral regions related to cortical-limbic pathways in MDD patients.