First-episode medication-naive major depressive disorder is associated with altered resting brain function in the affective network

Zhang X, Zhu X, Wang X, Zhu X, Zhong M, Yi J, Rao H, Yao S

PLoS ONE 2014;9(1):e85241

PMID: 24416367


BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with abnormal structure and function of the brain’s affective network, including the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). However, it is unclear if alterations of resting-state function in this affective network are present at the initial onset of MDD.

AIMS: To examine resting-state function of the brain’s affective network in first-episode, medication-naive patients with MDD compared to healthy controls (HCs).

METHODS: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) was performed on 32 first-episode, medication-naive young adult patients with MDD and 35 matched HCs. The amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) of the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal and amygdala-seeded functional connectivity (FC) were investigated.

RESULTS: Compared to HC, MDD patients showed reduced ALFF in the bilateral OFC and increased ALFF in the bilateral temporal lobe extending to the insular and left fusiform cortices. Enhanced anti-correlation of activity between the left amygdala seed and the left OFC was found in MDD patients but not in HCs.

CONCLUSIONS: Reduced ALFF in the OFC suggests hypo-functioning of emotion regulation in the affective network. Enhanced anti-correlation of activity between the amygdala and OFC may reflect dysfunction of the amygdala-OFC network and additionally represent a pathological process of MDD.