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Baseline functional connectivity may predict placebo responses to accelerated rTMS treatment in major depression

  • Wu, Guo‐Rong
  • Wang, Xiaowan
  • Baeken, Chris
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.24828
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Although in theory sham repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has no inherent therapeutic value, nonetheless, such placebo stimulations may have relevant therapeutic effects in clinically depressed patients. On the other hand, antidepressant responses to sham rTMS are quite heterogeneous across individuals and its neural underpinnings have not been explored yet. The current brain imaging study aims to detect baseline neural fingerprints resulting in clinically beneficial placebo rTMS treatment responses. We collected resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data prior to a registered randomized clinical trial of accelerated placebo stimulation protocol in patients documented with treatment-resistant depression (). In addition to global brain connectivity and rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) seed-based functional connectivity (FC), elastic-net regression and cross-validation procedures were used to identify baseline intrinsic brain connectivity biomarkers for sham-rTMS responses. Placebo responses to accelerated sham rTMS were correlated with baseline global brain connectivity in the rACC/ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Concerning the rACC seed-based FC analysis, the placebo response was associated positively with the precuneus/posterior cingulate (PCun/PCC) cortex and negatively with the middle frontal gyrus. Our findings provide first brain imaging evidence for placebo responses to sham stimulation being predictable from rACC rsFC profiles, especially in brain areas implicated in (re)appraisal and self-focus processes.

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