Relationship between amygdala responses to masked faces and mood state and treatment in major depressive disorder.
ABSTRACT: CONTEXT:Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with behavioral and neurophysiological evidence of mood-congruent processing biases toward explicitly presented, emotionally valenced stimuli. However, few studies have investigated such biases toward implicitly presented stimuli. OBJECTIVE:To investigate differential amygdala responses to sad, happy, and neutral faces presented below the level of explicit conscious awareness using a backward masking task in unmedicated participants with MDD and healthy controls (HCs). DESIGN:Initial cross-sectional design followed by a longitudinal treatment trial using functional magnetic resonance imaging. SETTING:Psychiatric outpatient clinic at the National Institute of Mental Health. PARTICIPANTS:We studied 22 unmedicated, currently depressed people with MDD (dMDD), 16 unmedicated individuals with MDD in full remission (rMDD), and 25 HCs. INTERVENTION:Ten dMDD participants underwent 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline hydrochloride. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Amygdala region-of-interest and whole-brain analyses evaluated the hemodynamic response during exposure to masked sad vs masked happy faces, to masked sad vs neutral faces, and to masked happy vs neutral faces. RESULTS:The dMDD participants showed greater amygdala responses than HCs to masked sad faces, whereas HCs showed greater amygdala responses to masked happy faces. The bias toward sad faces also was evident in rMDD participants relative to HCs and did not differ between dMDD and rMDD participants. This processing bias reversed toward the normative pattern in dMDD participants after sertraline treatment. CONCLUSIONS:Emotional-processing biases occur in amygdala responses to sad faces presented below the level of conscious awareness in dMDD or rMDD individuals and to happy faces in HCs. By influencing the salience of social stimuli, mood-congruent processing biases in the amygdala may contribute to dysfunction in conscious perceptions and social interactions in MDD. Our data suggest, however, that the negative bias resolves and a positive bias develops in patients with MDD during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with a mood-congruent processing bias in the amygdala toward face stimuli portraying sad expressions that is evident even when such stimuli are presented below the level of conscious awareness. The extended functional anatomical network that maintains this response bias has not been established, however.<h4>Aims</h4>To identify neural network differences in the hemodynamic response to implicitly presented facial expressions between depressed and healthy control participants.<h4>Method</h4>Unmedicated-depressed participants with MDD (n=22) and healthy controls (HC; n=25) underwent functional MRI as they viewed face stimuli showing sad, happy or neutral face expressions, presented using a backward masking design. The blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal was measured to identify regions where the hemodynamic response to the emotionally valenced stimuli differed between groups.<h4>Results</h4>The MDD subjects showed greater BOLD responses than the controls to masked-sad versus masked-happy faces in the hippocampus, amygdala and anterior inferotemporal cortex. While viewing both masked-sad and masked-happy faces relative to masked-neutral faces, the depressed subjects showed greater hemodynamic responses than the controls in a network that included the medial and orbital prefrontal cortices and anterior temporal cortex.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Depressed and healthy participants showed distinct hemodynamic responses to masked-sad and masked-happy faces in neural circuits known to support the processing of emotionally valenced stimuli and to integrate the sensory and visceromotor aspects of emotional behavior. Altered function within these networks in MDD may establish and maintain illness-associated differences in the salience of sensory/social stimuli, such that attention is biased toward negative and away from positive stimuli.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Vulnerability to relapse persists after remission of an acute episode of major depressive disorder. This has been attributed to abnormal biases in the processing of emotional stimuli in limbic circuits. However, neuroimaging studies have not so far revealed consistent evidence of abnormal responses to emotional stimuli in limbic structures, such as the amygdala, in remitted depression. This suggests the problem might lie in the integrated functioning of emotion processing circuits. METHODS:We recruited 22 unmedicated patients in remission from major depressive disorder (rMDD) and 21 age-matched healthy control subjects. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed during a face emotion processing task. Dynamic causal modeling was used with Bayesian model selection to determine the most likely brain networks and valence-specific modulation of connectivity in healthy control subjects and rMDD. RESULTS:In healthy volunteers, sad faces modulated bi-directional connections between amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex and between fusiform gyrus and orbitofrontal cortex. Happy faces modulated unidirectional connections from fusiform gyrus to orbitofrontal cortex. In rMDD, the opposite pattern was observed, with evidence of happy faces modulating bidirectional frontotemporal connections and sad faces modulating unidirectional fusiform-orbitofrontal connections. CONCLUSIONS:Participants with rMDD have abnormal modulation of frontotemporal effective connectivity in response to happy and sad face emotions, despite normal activations within each region. Specifically, processing of mood incongruent happy information was associated with a more richly modulated frontotemporal brain network, whereas mood congruent sad information was associated with less network modulation. This supports a hypothesis of dysfunction within cortico-limbic connections in individuals vulnerable to depression.
Project description:Low-grade inflammation is characteristic of a subgroup of currently depressed patients with major depressive disorder (dMDD). It may lead to the activation of the kynurenine-metabolic pathway and the increased synthesis of potentially neurotoxic metabolites such as 3-hydroxykynurenine (3HK) and quinolinic acid (QA), relative to kynurenic acid (KynA). Nevertheless, few studies have examined whether abnormalities in this pathway are present in remitted patients with MDD (rMDD). Here we compared the serum concentrations of kynurenine metabolites, measured using high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry, across 49 unmedicated subjects meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for MDD, 21 unmedicated subjects meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for rMDD, and 58 healthy controls (HCs). There was no significant group difference in the concentrations of the individual kynurenine metabolites, however both the dMDD group and the rMDD group showed a reduction in KynA/QA, compared with the HCs. Further, there was an inverse correlation between KynA/QA and anhedonia in the dMDD group, while in the rMDD group, there was a negative correlation between lifetime number of depressive episodes and KynA/QA as well as a positive correlation between the number of months in remission and KynA/QA. Our results raise the possibility that a persistent abnormality exists within the kynurenine metabolic pathway in MDD that conceivably may worsen with additional depressive episodes. The question of whether persistent abnormalities in kynurenine metabolism predispose to depression and/or relapse in remitted individuals remains unresolved.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by dysfunction in cognitive and emotional systems. However, the neural network correlates of cognitive control (cold cognition) and emotion processing (hot cognition) during the remitted state of MDD (rMDD) remain unclear and not fully probed, which has important implications for identifying intermediate phenotypes of depression risk. METHODS:43 young adults with rMDD and 33 healthy controls (HCs) underwent fMRI while completing separate tasks of cold cognition (Parametric Go/No-Go test) and hot cognition (Facial Emotion Processing Test). Two 2 group (rMDD, HC) × 2 event (sad/fearful faces, correct rejections) factorial models of activation were calculated in SPM8. Functional activation was evaluated in the salience and emotional network (SEN) and the cognitive control network (CCN), including hypothesized interaction between group and task within the CCN. RESULTS:Individuals with rMDD demonstrated greater spatial extent of suprathreshold activation within the SEN during sad faces relative to HCs. There were several regions within the CCN in which HCs showed greater activation than rMDD during correct rejections of lures, whereas individuals with rMDD showed greater activation than HCs during sad or fearful faces. LIMITATIONS:Results were not directly compared with active MDD. CONCLUSIONS:These results provide evidence of deficient CCN engagement during cognitive control in rMDD (dysfunctional cold cognition). Elevated SEN activation during sad faces could represent heightened salience of negative emotional faces in rMDD; elevated CCN activation during emotional faces in rMDD could represent compensatory regulatory control. These group differences may represent vulnerability factors, scars of prior depressive episodes, or processes maintaining wellness.
Project description:Depressed patients show evidence of both proinflammatory changes and neurophysiological abnormalities such as increased amygdala reactivity and volumetric decreases of the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). However, very little is known about the relationship between inflammation and neuroimaging abnormalities in mood disorders. A whole genome expression analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells yielded 12 protein-coding genes (ADM, APBB3, CD160, CFD, CITED2, CTSZ, IER5, NFKBIZ, NR4A2, NUCKS1, SERTAD1, TNF) that were differentially expressed between 29 unmedicated depressed patients with a mood disorder (8 bipolar disorder, 21 major depressive disorder) and 24 healthy controls (HCs). Several of these genes have been implicated in neurological disorders and/or apoptosis. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis yielded two genes networks, one centered around TNF with NFK?, TGF?, and ERK as connecting hubs, and the second network indicating cell cycle and/or kinase signaling anomalies. fMRI scanning was conducted using a backward-masking task in which subjects were presented with emotionally-valenced faces. Compared with HCs, the depressed subjects displayed a greater hemodynamic response in the right amygdala, left hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to masked sad versus happy faces. The mRNA levels of several genes were significantly correlated with the hemodynamic response of the amygdala, vmPFC and hippocampus to masked sad versus happy faces. Differentially-expressed transcripts were significantly correlated with thickness of the left subgenual ACC, and volume of the hippocampus and caudate. Our results raise the possibility that molecular-level immune dysfunction can be mapped onto macro-level neuroimaging abnormalities, potentially elucidating a mechanism by which inflammation leads to depression.
Project description:Previous neuromorphometric investigations of major depressive disorder (MDD) have reported abnormalities in gray matter in several regions, although the results have been inconsistent across studies. Some discrepancies in the results across studies may reflect design limitations such as small sample sizes, whereas others may reflect biological variability that potentially manifests as differences in clinical course. For example, it remains unclear whether the abnormalities found in persistently depressed MDD subjects extend to or persist in patients who experience prolonged remission. The aim of the present study was to investigate gray matter (GM) differences in unmedicated, currently-depressed participants (dMDD) and unmedicated, currently-remitted (rMDD) participants with MDD compared to healthy controls (HC). The GM density and volume were compared across groups using voxel-based morphometry, a quantitative neuroanatomical technique, and high-resolution MRI images from 107 HC, 58 dMDD and 27 rMDD subjects. Relative to the HC group the dMDD group had reduced GM in the dorsal anterolateral (DALPFC), the dorsomedial (DMPFC) and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). Relative to the rMDD group the dMDD group showed reduced GM in the DALPFC, the VLPFC, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the precuneus and the inferior parietal lobule. No regions were identified in which the rMDD group showed significantly lower GM compared to the HC group after p-values were corrected for the number of comparisons performed. In unmedicated patients in the depressed phase of MDD, we found evidence of morphometric abnormalities in DALPFC and in medial prefrontal cortical regions belonging to the visceromotor network. These findings, along with the absence of GM abnormalities in the remitted sample imply a possible link between greater GM tissue and better clinical outcome. Consistent with other neuroimaging and post-mortem neuropathological studies of MDD, we also found evidence of decreased white matter in patients with dMDD and rMDD.
Project description:Abnormalities in the response of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) to negative emotional stimuli have been reported in acutely depressed patients. However, there is a paucity of studies conducted in unmedicated individuals with major depressive disorder in remission (rMDD) to assess whether these are trait abnormalities. To address this issue, 19 medication-free rMDD individuals and 20 healthy comparison (HC) participants were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing an implicit emotion processing task in which they labeled the gender of faces depicting negative (fearful), positive (happy) and neutral facial expressions. The rMDD and HC groups were compared using a region-of-interest approach for two contrasts: fear vs. neutral and happy vs. neutral. Relative to HC, rMDD showed reduced activation in left OFC and DLPFC to fearful (vs. neutral) faces. Right DLPFC activation to fearful (vs. neutral) faces in the rMDD group showed a significant positive correlation with duration of euthymia. The findings support deficits in left OFC and DLPFC responses to negative emotional stimuli during euthymic periods of MDD, which may reflect trait markers of the illness or a 'scar' due to previous depression. Recovery may also be associated with compensatory increases in right DLPFC functioning.
Project description:Targeted metabolomics provides an approach to quantify metabolites involved in specific molecular pathways. We applied an electrochemistry-based, targeted metabolomics platform to define changes in tryptophan, tyrosine, purine and related pathways in the depressed and remitted phases of major depressive disorder (MDD). Biochemical profiles in the cerebrospinal fluid of unmedicated depressed (n = 14; dMDD) or remitted MDD subjects (n = 14; rMDD) were compared against those in healthy controls (n = 18; HC). The rMDD group showed differences in tryptophan and tyrosine metabolism relative to the other groups. The rMDD group also had higher methionine levels and larger methionine-to-glutathione ratios than the other groups, implicating methylation and oxidative stress pathways. The dMDD sample showed nonsignificant differences in the same direction in several of the metabolic branches assessed. The reductions in metabolites associated with tryptophan and tyrosine pathways in rMDD may relate to the vulnerability this population shows for developing depressive symptoms under tryptophan or catecholamine depletion.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability worldwide and occurs commonly first during adolescence. The insular cortex (IC) plays an important role in integrating emotion processing with interoception and has been implicated recently in the pathophysiology of adult and adolescent MDD. However, no studies have yet specifically examined the IC in adolescent MDD during processing of faces in the sad-happy continuum. Thus, the aim of the present study is to investigate the IC during sad and happy face processing in adolescents with MDD compared to healthy controls (HCL). METHODS:Thirty-one adolescents (22 female) with MDD and 36 (23 female) HCL underwent a well-validated emotional processing fMRI paradigm that included sad and happy face stimuli. RESULTS:The MDD group showed significantly less differential activation of the anterior/middle insular cortex (AMIC) in response to sad versus happy faces compared to the HCL group. AMIC also showed greater functional connectivity with right fusiform gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and right amygdala/parahippocampal gyrus in the MDD compared to HCL group. Moreover, differential activation to sad and happy faces in AMIC correlated negatively with depression severity within the MDD group. LIMITATIONS:Small age-range and cross-sectional nature precluded assessment of development of the AMIC in adolescent depression. CONCLUSIONS:Given the role of the IC in integrating bodily stimuli with conscious cognitive and emotional processes, our findings of aberrant AMIC function in adolescent MDD provide a neuroscientific rationale for targeting the AMIC in the development of new treatment modalities.
Project description:Overgeneral autobiographical memory (AM) manifests in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) tested during depressed (dMDD) or remitted phases (rMDD), and healthy individuals at high-risk (HR) for developing MDD. The current study aimed to elucidate differences in hemodynamic correlates of AM recall between rMDDs, HRs, and controls (HCs) to identify neural changes following previous depressive episodes without the confound of current depressed mood. HCs, HRs, and unmedicated rMDDs (n = 20/group) underwent fMRI while recalling AMs in response to emotionally valenced cue words. HRs and rMDDs recalled fewer specific and more categorical AMs relative to HCs. During specific AM recall, HRs had increased activity relative to rMDDs and HCs in left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and lateral orbitofrontal cortex. During positive specific AM recall, HRs and HCs had increased activity relative to rMDDs in bilateral dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) and left precuneus. During negative specific AM recall HRs and HCs had increased activity in left VLPFC and right DMPFC, while rMDDs had increased activity relative to HRs and HCs in right DLPFC and precuneus. Differential recruitment of medial prefrontal regions implicated in emotional control suggests experiencing a depressive episode may consequently reduce one's ability to regulate emotional responses during AM recall.