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Structural brain characteristics in treatment-resistant depression: review of magnetic resonance imaging studies

  • Margit Philomène C. Klok (a1), Philip. F. van Eijndhoven (a2), Miklos Argyelan (a3), Aart H. Schene (a4) and Indira Tendolkar (a5)...

Abstract

Background

Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been related to structural brain characteristics that are correlated with the severity of disease. However, the correlation of these structural changes is less well clarified in treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

Aims

To summarise the existing literature on structural brain characteristics in TRD to create an overview of known abnormalities of the brain in patients with MDD, to form hypotheses about the absence or existence of a common pathophysiology of MDD and TRD.

Method

A systematic search of PubMed and the Cochrane Library for studies published between 1998 and August of 2016 investigating structural brain changes in patients with TRD compared with healthy controls or patients with MDD.

Results

Fourteen articles are included in this review. Lower grey matter volume (GMV) in the anterior cingulate cortex, right cerebellum, caudate nucleus, superior/medial frontal gyrus and hippocampus does not seem to differentiate TRD from milder forms of MDD. However, lower GMV in the putamen, inferior frontal gyrus, precentral gyrus, angular- and post-central gyri together with specific mainly parietal white matter tract changes seem to be more specific structural characteristics of TRD.

Conclusions

The currently available data on structural brain changes in patients with TRD compared with milder forms of MDD and healthy controls cannot sufficiently distinguish between a ‘shared continuum hypothesis’ and a ‘different entity hypothesis’. Our review clearly suggests that although there is some overlap in affected brain regions between milder forms of MDD and TRD, TRD also comes with specific alterations in mainly the putamen and parietal white matter tracts.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Margit Philomène C. Klok, Department of Psychiatry, Radboud University Medical Center, Postbus 9101, Nijmegen 6500 HB, the Netherlands. Email: margit.klok@radboudumc.nl

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Structural brain characteristics in treatment-resistant depression: review of magnetic resonance imaging studies

  • Margit Philomène C. Klok (a1), Philip. F. van Eijndhoven (a2), Miklos Argyelan (a3), Aart H. Schene (a4) and Indira Tendolkar (a5)...
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