Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Imaging biomarker predicts response to rapid antidepressant

Date:
February 4, 2013
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Summary:
A boost of activity at the back of the brain while processing emotional information predicted depressed patients' responses to an experimental rapid-acting antidepressant. The potential neuroimaging biomarker may eventually help to personalize treatment selection by revealing brain-based differences between patients. Scopolamine can lift depression in many, but not all, patients within a few days. The study found that the more dysfunctional a patient's acetylcholine chemical messenger system, the better they responded to the drug.

Working memory task: Over several trials, participants were required to attend to either the identity (non-emotional feature) or the emotion of a face, remember it during a 9 second delay, and match the feature to a subsequent face. Neural activity in the visual cortex elicited by the emotion trials predicted a patient’s subsequent responsiveness to scopolamine treatment.
Credit: Maura Furey, Ph.D., NIMH Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch

A telltale boost of activity at the back of the brain while processing emotional information predicted whether depressed patients would respond to an experimental rapid-acting antidepressant, a National Institutes of Health study has found.

Related Articles


"We have discovered a potential neuroimaging biomarker that may eventually help to personalize treatment selection by revealing brain-based differences between patients," explained Maura Furey, Ph.D., of NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Furey, NIMH's Carlos Zarate, M.D., and colleagues, reported on their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of a pre-treatment biomarker for the antidepressant response to scopolamine, Jan. 30, 2013, online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Scopolamine, better known as a treatment for motion sickness, has been under study since Furey and colleagues discovered its fast-acting antidepressant properties in 2006. Unlike ketamine, scopolamine works through the brain's acetylcholine chemical messenger system. The NIMH team's research has demonstrated that by blocking receptors for acetylcholine on neurons, scopolamine can lift depression in many patients within a few days; conventional antidepressants typically take weeks to work. But not all patients respond, spurring interest in a predictive biomarker.

The acetylcholine system plays a pivotal role in working memory, holding information in mind temporarily, but appears to act by influencing the processing of information rather than through memory. Imaging studies suggest that visual working memory performance can be enhanced by modulating acetylcholine-induced activity in the brain's visual processing area, called the visual cortex, when processing information that is important to the task. Since working memory performance can predict response to conventional antidepressants and ketamine, Furey and colleagues turned to a working memory task and imaging visual cortex activity as potential tools to identify a biomarker for scopolamine response.

Depressed patients have a well-known tendency to process and remember negative emotional information. The researchers propose that this bias stems from dysregulated acetylcholine systems in some patients. They reasoned that such patients would show aberrant visual cortex activity in response to negative emotional features of a working memory task. They also expected to find that patients with more dysfunctional acetylcholine systems would respond better to scopolamine treatment.

Before receiving scopolamine, participants performed a working memory task while their brain activity was monitored via fMRI. For some trials, it required that they pay attention to, and remember, the emotional expression (sad, happy, etc.) of faces flashing on a computer monitor. For other trials, they had to pay attention to only the identity, or non-emotional feature, of the faces. After scanning, and over the following several weeks, 15 patients with depression and 21 healthy participants randomly received infusions of a placebo (salt solution) and/or scopolamine. Mood changes were monitored with depression rating scales.

Overall, scopolamine treatment reduced depression symptoms by 63 percent, with 11 of the patients showing a significant clinical response. The strength of this response correlated significantly with visual cortex activity during key phases of the working memory task -- while participants were paying attention to the emotional content of the faces. There was no such correlation for trials when they attended to the identity of the faces.

The findings suggest that acetylcholine system activity drives visual cortex activity that predicts treatment response -- and that differences seen between depressed patients and controls may be traceable to acetylcholine dysfunction. Overall, patients showed lower visual cortex activity than controls during the emotion phase of the task. Patients showing activity levels most dissimilar to controls experienced the greatest antidepressant response to scopolamine treatment. Visual cortex activity in patients who didn't respond to scopolamine more closely resembled that of controls. As hypothesized, the pretreatment level of visual cortex activity appears to reflect the extent of patients' acetylcholine system dysfunction and to predict their response to the experimental medication, say the researchers.

Preliminary evidence suggests that such visual cortex activity in response to emotional stimuli may also apply to other treatments and may prove to be a shared biomarker of rapid antidepressant response, according to Furey.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Furey ML, Drevets WC, Hoffman EM, Frankel E, Speer AM, Zarate CA. Potential of Pretreatment Neural Activity in the Visual Cortex During Emotional Processing to Predict Treatment Response to Scopolamine in Major Depressive DisorderVisual Cortex Activity and Scopolamine Response. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013; DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.60

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Imaging biomarker predicts response to rapid antidepressant." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184623.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. (2013, February 4). Imaging biomarker predicts response to rapid antidepressant. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184623.htm
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Imaging biomarker predicts response to rapid antidepressant." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184623.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Alzheimer’s Hope

Alzheimer’s Hope

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) A new drug, BCI-838 offers new hope to halt and possibly reverse the damage of Alzheimer’s disease. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins