Effect of electroconvulsive therapy on cortical thickness in patients with depression – a longitudinal MRI study

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Several studies have found an increase in hippocampal volume following a series of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but the effect on cortical thickness has been less investigated. We aimed to examine the short- and long-term effect of ECT on changes in cortical thickness and their associations with clinical outcome.

Using 3 Tesla MRI-scanner, we obtained T1-weighted brain images of 18 severely depressed patients at three time points: befor, right after, and six months after a series of ECT. The thickness of 68 cortical regions was extracted using Free Surfer, and Linear Mixed Model was used to analyse the longitudinal changes.

We found significant increases in cortical thickness of 26 regions right after the series of ECT, mainly within the frontal, temporal and insular cortex. The thickness returned to the baseline-values at six-month follow-up. No significant decreases in cortical thickness were detected. The increase in thickness of the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex was correlated to at greater antidepressant effect, r-0.75, p-0.0005. None of the regions showed any associations with cognitive side effects.

The findings support the neurotrophic hypothesis of ECT's mechanism of action and do not support the notion that ECT has a harmful effect on the cortex.
Periode19 jun. 2019
BegivenhedstitelRHPs Forskningsdag 2019
PlaceringKøbenhavn, DanmarkVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseNational


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