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Heterogeneity in cognitive functioning among major depressive disorder (MDD) patients could have been the reason for the small-to-moderate differences reported so far when it is compared to other psychiatric conditions or to healthy controls. Additionally, most of these studies did not take into account clinical and sociodemographic characteristics that could have played a relevant role in cognitive variability. This study aims to identify empirical clusters based on cognitive, clinical and sociodemographic variables in a sample of acute MDD patients.
In a sample of 174 patients with an acute depressive episode, a two-step clustering analysis was applied considering potentially relevant cognitive, clinical and sociodemographic variables as indicators for grouping.
Treatment resistance was the most important factor for clustering, closely followed by cognitive performance. Three empirical subgroups were obtained: cluster 1 was characterized by a sample of non-resistant patients with preserved cognitive functioning (n = 68, 39%); cluster 2 was formed by treatment-resistant patients with selective cognitive deficits (n = 66, 38%) and cluster 3 consisted of resistant (n = 23, 58%) and non-resistant (n = 17, 42%) acute patients with significant deficits in all neurocognitive domains (n = 40, 23%).
The findings provide evidence upon the existence of cognitive heterogeneity across patients in an acute depressive episode. Therefore, assessing cognition becomes an evident necessity for all patients diagnosed with MDD, and although treatment resistant is associated with greater cognitive dysfunction, non-resistant patients can also show significant cognitive deficits. By targeting not only mood but also cognition, patients are more likely to achieve full recovery and prevent new relapses.
Neurotrophins such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), inflammation and oxidative damage may contribute to the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD) in terms of illness activity. To date, there is a lack of studies linking the cognitive impairment observed in BD with these neurobiological mechanisms. This study aimed to investigate the role of these neurobiological factors in clinical and cognitive outcomes in a sample of bipolar individuals.
We measured serum BDNF, cytokines and oxidative stress markers in a sample of 133 individuals: 52 euthymic bipolar patients, 32 manic patients and 49 healthy controls. They were all assessed with a comprehensive cognitive battery. Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected. Multiple linear regression models were built to study associations of neurotrophins and inflammatory and oxidative measures with cognitive functioning.
BDNF levels were decreased in euthymic (p = 0.039) and manic (p < 0.001) individuals. Conversely, inflammatory (interleukin 6 (IL-6)) (p = 0.019) and oxidative stress (p = 0.003) measures were increased in bipolar individuals compared to controls. BDNF levels were associated with executive functioning (β = 0.01, p = 0.02) and verbal memory (β = 0.013, p = 0.005), together with other demographic variables. In particular, verbal memory was also associated with obesity (β=-0.04, p = 0.005). Neither inflammatory markers, oxidative stress markers nor other relevant clinical variables showed any association with cognitive outcome.
Of all the peripheral neurobiological factors analysed, BDNF was the only one significantly associated with cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder individuals. This study emphasizes the role of BDNF not only across mood phases but also in cognitive functioning.
Although pharmacogenetics for major depressive disorder (MDD) is gaining momentum, the role of genetics in differences in response to antidepressant treatment is controversial, as they depend on multifactorial and polygenic phenotypes. Previous studies focused on the genes of the serotonergic system, leaving apart other pathological factors such as the inflammatory pathway. The main objective of the study was to assess whether treatment response might be associated with specific inflammation-related genetic variants or their methylation status.
41 SNPs in 8 inflammatory genes: interleukin (IL) 1-β, IL2, IL6, IL6R, IL10, IL18, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interferon (IFN)-γ were genotyped in 153 patients with MDD, who were evaluated with the Mausdley Staging Method to determine treatment response profiles. Pyrosequencing reactions and methylation quantification were performed in a PyroMark Q24 in 5 selected CpG islands of IL1- β, IL6 and IL6R. Linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted, including age and gender as covariates using PLINK 1.07.
Allelic distribution of IL1- β rs1143643 was significantly associated with MSM scores (FDR corrected p = 0.04). Allelic distribution of IL6R rs57569414 showed a trend towards significance with MSM scores (p = 0.002; FDR corrected p = 0.07). Haplotype analyses showed associations between allelic combinations of IL1-β and IL10 with treatment response (FDR corrected p < 0.01). Methylation percentage of treatment responders was only higher in an IL6R CpG island (p < 0.05).
These exploratory findings suggest that IL1-β and, marginally, IL6R polymorphisms may affect treatment response in major depression. If confirmed, these results may account for the heterogeneous phenotypes of major depression that underlie differences in treatment response.
Findings of brain structural changes in major depressive disorder are still inconsistent, partly because some crucial clinical variables have not been taken into account.
To investigate the effect of major depressive disorder on grey matter volumes.
Voxel-based morphometry was used to compare 66 patients with depression at different illness stages (22 each with first-episode, remitted-recurrent and treatment resistant/chronic depression) with 32 healthy controls. Brain volumes were correlated with clinical variables.
Voxel-based morphometry showed a significant group effect in right superior frontal gyrus, left medial frontal gyrus and left cingulate gyrus (P<0.05, family wise error-corrected). Patients whose condition was treatment resistant/chronic exhibited the smallest volumes in frontotemporal areas. Longer illness duration was negatively correlated with decreases in right medial frontal cortex and left insula.
Frontotemporolimbic areas are smaller in the patients with severe depression and are associated with duration of illness, but not with medication patterns, suggesting negative effects of long-lasting major depressive disorder on grey matter.
There is growing evidence of a relationship between frontal neuroimaging and neuropsychological abnormalities and the physiopathology and course of late-onset major depression.
To assess acute antidepressant response in late-onset major depression in relation to baseline frontal perfusion ratios.
A 99mTc HMPAO single photon emission computed tomographic brain scan was performed in medication-free patients with late-onset major depression, who were then included in a 12-week antidepressant treatment regimen. Logistic regression was used to define a predictive model of non-remission.
Atotal of 47 patients completed the study 34 of whom were classed as remitters and 13 as non-remitters. The variable left anterior fronto-cerebellar perfusion ratio had a global predictive power of 87%. Analysing this variable together with the baseline variables age of onset and duration of index episode, the predictive power of the model rose to 94%.
Our study suggests that a specific frontal functioning could predict the acute antidepressant response in late-onset severe major depression.
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