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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Dec 3;39(2):364-70. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.07.012. Epub 2012 Jul 29.

Equivalent brain SPECT perfusion changes underlying therapeutic efficiency in pharmacoresistant depression using either high-frequency left or low-frequency right prefrontal rTMS.

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Hôpital Sainte Marguerite, Pôle de Psychiatrie Universitaire, 13009 Marseille, France.



Functional neuroimaging studies have suggested similar mechanisms underlying antidepressant effects of distinct therapeutics.


This study aimed to determine and compare functional brain patterns underlying the antidepressant response of 2 distinct protocols of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).


99mTc-ECD SPECT was performed before and after rTMS of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in 61 drug-resistant right-handed patients with major depression, using high frequency (10Hz) left-side stimulation in 33 patients, and low frequency (1Hz) right-side stimulation in 28 patients. Efficiency of rTMS response was defined as at least 50% reduction of the baseline Beck Depression Inventory score. We compared the whole-brain voxel-based brain SPECT changes in perfusion after rTMS, between responders and non-responders in the whole sample (p<0.005, uncorrected), and separately in the subgroup of patients with left- and right-stimulation.


Before rTMS, the left- and right-prefrontal stimulation groups did not differ from clinical data and brain SPECT perfusion. rTMS efficiency (evaluated on % of responders) was statistically equivalent in the two groups of patients. In the whole-group of responder patients, a perfusion decrease was found after rTMS, in comparison to non-responders, within the left perirhinal cortex (BA35, BA36). This result was secondarily confirmed separately in the two subgroups, i.e. after either left stimulation (p=0.017) or right stimulation (p<0.001), without significant perfusion differences between these two subgroups.


These data show that distinct successful rTMS protocols induce equivalent brain functional changes associated to antidepressive efficiency, consisting to a remote brain limbic activity decrease within the left perirhinal cortex. However, these results will have to be confirmed in a double-blind randomized trial using a sham control group.

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