Abnormal Functional Connectivity of Frontopolar Subregions in Treatment-Nonresponsive Major Depressive Disorder.

Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2018 04 27;3(4):337-347. Epub 2017 Dec 27.

Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada; MRI-Guided rTMS Clinic, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada; Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Approximately 30% of patients with major depressive disorder develop treatment-nonresponsive depression (TNRD); novel interventions targeting the substrates of this illness population are desperately needed. Convergent evidence from lesion, stimulation, connectivity, and functional neuroimaging studies implicates the frontopolar cortex (FPC) as a particularly important region in TNRD pathophysiology; regions functionally connected to the FPC, once identified, could present favorable targets for novel brain stimulation treatments.

Methods: We recently published a parcellation of the FPC based on diffusion tensor imaging data, identifying distinct medial and lateral subregions. Here, we applied this parcellation to resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans obtained in 56 patients with TNRD and 56 matched healthy control subjects.

Results: In patients, the medial FPC showed reduced connectivity to the anterior midcingulate cortex and insula. The left lateral FPC showed reduced connectivity to the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex and increased connectivity to the fusiform gyri. In addition, TNRD symptom severity correlated significantly with connectivity of the left lateral FPC subregion to a medial orbitofrontal cortex region of the classical reward network.

Conclusions: Taken together, these findings suggest that changes in FPC subregion connectivity may underlie several dimensions of TNRD pathology, including changes in reward/positive valence, nonreward/negative valence, and cognitive control domains. Nodes of functional networks showing abnormal connectivity to the FPC could be useful in generating novel candidates for therapeutic brain stimulation in TNRD.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2017.12.003DOI Listing
April 2018
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