Discovery and replication of cerebral blood flow differences in major depressive disorder

Crystal Cooper Cortes, Cherise R. Chin Fatt, Peiying Liu, Bruce D Grannemann, Thomas Carmody, Jorge R.C. Almeida, Thilo Deckersbach, Maurizio Fava, Benji T. Kurian, Ashley L. Malchow, Patrick J. McGrath, Melvin McInnis, Maria A. Oquendo, Ramin V. Parsey, Elizabeth Bartlett, Myrna Weissman, Mary L. Phillips, Hanzhang Lu, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious, heterogeneous disorder accompanied by brain-related changes, many of which are still to be discovered or refined. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a neuroimaging technique used to measure cerebral blood flow (CBF; perfusion) to understand brain function and detect differences among groups. CBF differences have been detected in MDD, and may reveal biosignatures of disease-state. The current work aimed to discover and replicate differences in CBF between MDD participants and healthy controls (HC) as part of the EMBARC study. Participants underwent neuroimaging at baseline, prior to starting study medication, to investigate biosignatures in MDD. Relative CBF (rCBF) was calculated and compared between 106 MDD and 36 HC EMBARC participants (whole-brain Discovery); and 58 MDD EMBARC participants and 58 HC from the DLBS study (region-of-interest Replication). Both analyses revealed reduced rCBF in the right parahippocampus, thalamus, fusiform and middle temporal gyri, as well as the left and right insula, for those with MDD relative to HC. Both samples also revealed increased rCBF in MDD relative to HC in both the left and right inferior parietal lobule, including the supramarginal and angular gyri. Cingulate and prefrontal regions did not fully replicate. Lastly, significant associations were detected between rCBF in replicated regions and clinical measures of MDD chronicity. These results (1) provide reliable evidence for ASL in detecting differences in perfusion for multiple brain regions thought to be important in MDD, and (2) highlight the potential role of using perfusion as a biosignature of MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1500-1510
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


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