Neuroanatomical predictors of response to subcallosal cingulate deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression

Tejas Sankar, M. Mallar Chakravarty, Natasha Jawa, Stanley X. Li, Peter Giacobbe, Sidney H. Kennedy, Sakina J. Rizvi, Helen S. Mayberg, Clement Hamani, Andres M. Lozano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Deep brain stimulation targeting the subcallosal cingulate gyrus (SCG DBS) improves the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression in some patients, but not in others. We hypothesized that there are pre-existing structural brain differences between responders and nonresponders to SCG DBS, detectable using structural MRI. Methods: We studied preoperative, T1-weighted MRI scans of 27 patients treated with SCG DBS from 2003 to 2011. Responders (n = 15) were patients with a > 50% improvement in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score following 12 months of SCG DBS. Preoperative subcallosal cingulate gyrus grey matter volume was obtained using manual segmentation by a trained observer blinded to patient identity. Volumes of hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala, whole-brain cortical grey matter and white matter volume were obtained using automated techniques. Results: Preoperative subcallosal cingulate gyrus, thalamic and amygdalar volumes were significantly larger in patients who went on to respond to SCG-DBS. Hippocampal volume did not differ between groups. Cortical grey matter volume was significantly smaller in responders, and cortical grey matter:white matter ratio distinguished between responders and nonresponders with high sensitivity and specificity. Limitations: Normalization by intracranial volume nullified some between-group differences in volumetric measures. Conclusion: There are structural brain differences between patients with treatment-resistant depression who respond to SCG DBS and those who do not. Specifically, the structural integrity of the subcallosal cingulate gyrus target region and its connected subcortical areas, and variations in cortical volume across the entire brain, appear to be important determinants of response. Structural MRI shows promise as a biomarker in deep brain stimulation for depression, and may play a role in refining patient selection for future trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


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