Reduction of kynurenic acid to quinolinic acid ratio in both the depressed and remitted phases of major depressive disorder.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:Inflammation-related changes in the concentrations of inflammatory mediators such as c-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 1? (IL-1), and IL-6 as well as kynurenine metabolites are associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) and affect depressive behavior, cognition, and hippocampal plasticity in animal models. We previously reported that the ratios of kynurenic acid (KynA) to the neurotoxic metabolites, 3-hydroxykynurenine (3HK) and quinolinic acid (QA), were positively correlated with hippocampal volume in depression. The hippocampus is critical for autobiographical memory (AM) recall which is impaired in MDD. Here we tested whether the ratios, KynA/3HK and KynA/QA were associated with AM recall performance as well as hippocampal activity during AM recall. Thirty-five unmedicated depressed participants and 25 healthy controls (HCs) underwent fMRI scanning while recalling emotionally-valenced AMs and provided serum samples for the quantification of kynurenine metabolites, CRP, and cytokines (IL-1 receptor antagonist - IL-1RA; IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha - TNF, interferon gamma -IFN-?, IL-10). KynA/3HK and KynA/QA were lower in the MDD group relative to the HCs. The concentrations of the CRP and the cytokines did not differ significantly between the HCs and the MDD group. Depressed individuals recalled fewer specific AMs and displayed increased left hippocampal activity during the recall of positive and negative memories. KynA/3HK was inversely associated with left hippocampal activity during specific AM recall in the MDD group. Further, KynA/QA was positively correlated with percent negative specific memories recalled in the MDD group and showed a non-significant trend toward a positive correlation with percent positive specific memories recalled in HCs. In contrast, neither CRP nor the cytokines were significantly associated with AM recall or activity of the hippocampus during AM recall. Conceivably, an imbalance in levels of KynA versus QA-pathway metabolites may adversely impact the function of the hippocampus and AM recall, raising the possibility that kynurenine pathway may affect emotion-dependent memory within the context of depression.
Project description:Reductions in gray matter volume of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), especially the rostral and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (rACC, sgACC) are a widely reported finding in major depressive disorder (MDD). Inflammatory mediators, which are elevated in a subgroup of patients with MDD, activate the kynurenine metabolic pathway and increase production of neuroactive metabolites such as kynurenic acid (KynA), 3-hydroxykynurenine (3HK) and quinolinic acid (QA) which influence neuroplasticity. It is not known whether the alterations in brain structure and function observed in major depressive disorders are due to the direct effect of inflammatory mediators or the effects of neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites. Here, using partial posterior predictive distribution mediation analysis, we tested whether the serum concentrations of kynurenine pathway metabolites mediated reductions in cortical thickness in mPFC regions in MDD. Further, we tested whether any association between C-reactive protein (CRP) and cortical thickness would be mediated by kynurenine pathway metabolites. Seventy-three unmedicated subjects who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for MDD and 91 healthy controls (HC) completed MRI scanning using a pulse sequence optimized for tissue contrast resolution. Automated cortical parcellation was performed using the PALS-B12 Brodmann area atlas as implemented in FreeSurfer in order to compare the cortical thickness and cortical area of six PFC regions: Brodmann areas (BA) 9, 10, 11, 24, 25, and 32. Serum concentrations of kynurenine pathway metabolites were determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) detection, while high-sensitivity CRP concentration was measured immunoturbidimetrically. Compared with HCs, the MDD group showed a reduction in cortical thickness of the right BA24 (p<0.01) and BA32 (p<0.05) regions and MDD patients with a greater number of depressive episodes displayed thinner cortex in BA32 (p<0.05). Consistent with our previous findings in an overlapping sample, the KynA/3HK ratio and the log KynA/QA were reduced in the MDD group relative to the HC group (p's<0.05) and symptoms of anhedonia were negatively correlated with log KynA/QA in the MDD group (p<0.05). Both KynA/3HK and log KynA/QA at least partially mediated the relationship between diagnosis and cortical thickness of right BA32 (p's<0.05). CRP was inversely associated with BA32 thickness (p<0.01) and KynA/3HK partially mediated the relationship between CRP and the thickness of right BA32 (p<0.05). The results raise the possibility that the relative imbalance between KynA and neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites may partially explain the reductions in mPFC thickness observed in MDD, and further that these changes are more strongly linked to the putative effects of neuroactive kynurenine metabolites than those of inflammatory mediators.
Project description: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: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.
Project description:There is a well-known association between memory impairment and major depressive disorder (MDD). Additionally, recent studies are also showing resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsMRI) abnormalities in active and remitted MDD. However, no studies to date have examined both rs connectivity and memory performance in early course remitted MDD, nor the relationship between connectivity and semantically cued episodic memory.The rsMRI data from two 3.0 Tesla GE scanners were collected from 34 unmedicated young adults with remitted MDD (rMDD) and 23 healthy controls (HCs) between 18 and 23 years of age using bilateral seeds in the hippocampus. Participants also completed a semantically cued list-learning test, and their performance was correlated with hippocampal seed-based rsMRI. Regression models were also used to predict connectivity patterns from memory performance.After correcting for sex, rMDD subjects performed worse than HCs on the total number of words recalled and recognized. rMDD demonstrated significant in-network hypoactivation between the hippocampus and multiple fronto-temporal regions, and multiple extra-network hyperconnectivities between the hippocampus and fronto-parietal regions when compared to HCs. Memory performance negatively predicted connectivity in HCs and positively predicted connectivity in rMDD. Conclusions Even when individuals with a history of MDD are no longer displaying active depressive symptoms, they continue to demonstrate worse memory performance, disruptions in hippocampal connectivity, and a differential relationship between episodic memory and hippocampal connectivity.
Project description:Real-time fMRI neurofeedback (rtfMRI-nf) left amygdala (LA) training is a promising intervention for major depressive disorder (MDD). We have previously proposed that rtfMRI-nf LA training may reverse depression-associated regional impairments in neuroplasticity and restore information flow within emotion-regulating neural circuits. Inflammatory cytokines as well as the neuroactive metabolites of an immunoregulatory pathway, i.e. the kynurenine pathway (KP), have previously been implicated in neuroplasticity. Therefore, in this proof-of-principle study, we investigated the association between rtfMRI-nf LA training and circulating inflammatory mediators and KP metabolites. Based on our previous work, the primary variable of interest was the ratio of the NMDA-receptor antagonist, kynurenic acid to the NMDA receptor agonist, quinolinic acid (KynA/QA), a putative neuroprotective index. We tested two main hypotheses. i. Whether rtfMRI-nf acutely modulates KynA/QA, and ii. whether baseline KynA/QA predicts response to rtfMRI-nf. Twenty-nine unmedicated participants who met DSM-5 criteria for MDD based on the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and had current depressive symptoms (Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score > 6) completed two rtfMRI-nf sessions to upregulate LA activity (Visit1 and 2), as well as a follow-up (Visit3) without rtfMRI-nf. All visits occurred at two-week intervals. At all three visits, the MADRS was administered to participants and serum samples for the quantification of inflammatory cytokines and KP metabolites were obtained. First, the longitudinal changes in the MADRS score and immune markers were tested by linear mixed effect model analysis. Further, utilizing a linear regression model, we investigated the relationship between rtfMRI-nf performance and immune markers. After two sessions of rtfMRI-nf, MADRS scores were significantly reduced (t = -4.07, p = 0.009, d = 0.56). Thirteen participants showed a ? 25% reduction in the MADRS score (the partial responder group). There was a significant effect of visit (F[2,58] = 3.17, p = 0.05) for the neuroprotective index, KynA to 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK), that was driven by a significant increase in KynA/3-HK between Visit1 and Visit3 (t = 2.50, p = 0.03, d = 0.38). A higher baseline level of KynA/QA (? = 5.23, p = 0.06; rho = 0.49, p = 0.02) was associated with greater ability to upregulate the LA. Finally, for exploratory purposes correlation analyses were performed between the partial responder and the non-responder groups as well as in the whole sample including all KP metabolites and cytokines. In the partial responder group, greater ability to upregulate the LA was correlated with an increase in KynA/QA after rtfMRI-nf (rho = 0.75, p = 0.03). The results are consistent with the possibility that rtfMRI-nf decreases metabolism down the so-called neurotoxic branch of the KP. Nevertheless, non-specific effects cannot be ruled out due to the lack of a sham control. Future, controlled studies are needed to determine whether the increase in KynA/3HK and KynA/QA is specific to rtfMRI-nf or whether it is a non-specific correlate of the resolution of depressive symptoms. Similarly, replication studies are needed to determine whether KynA/QA has clinical utility as a treatment response biomarker.
Project description:BACKGROUND:We investigated whether performance on a reward processing task differs between fully remitted patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy control subjects after catecholamine depletion. METHODS:Seventeen unmedicated subjects with remitted MDD (RMDD) and 13 healthy control subjects underwent catecholamine depletion with oral alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT) in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study. The main outcome measure was the reaction time on the monetary incentive delay (MID) task. RESULTS:A diagnosis x drug interaction was evident (p = .001), which was attributable to an increase in reaction time across all incentive levels after AMPT in RMDD subjects (p = .001) but no significant AMPT effect on reaction time in control subjects (p = .17). There was no drug x diagnosis interaction on control tasks involving working memory or attention. In the RMDD sample the AMPT-induced depressive symptoms correlated with AMPT-induced changes in reaction time at all incentive levels of the MID task (r values = .58-.82, p < .002). CONCLUSIONS:Under catecholamine depletion the RMDD subjects were robustly differentiated from control subjects by development of performance deficits on a reward processing task. These performance deficits correlated directly with the return of depressive symptoms after AMPT administration. The sensitivity of central reward processing systems to reductions in brain catecholamine levels thus seems to represent a trait-like marker in MDD.
Project description:Inflammation-related changes in the concentrations of kynurenine pathway metabolites occur in depression secondary to medical conditions but are not firmly established in primary mood disorders. Reductions in hippocampal and amygdalar volume that putatively reflect dendritic atrophy are widely reported in major depressive disorder (MDD). Here we tested whether the relative serum concentrations of putatively neuroprotective (kynurenic acid (KA)) and neurotoxic (3-hydroxykynurenine (3HK) and quinolinic acid (QA)) kynurenine pathway metabolites were altered in primary MDD and whether these metabolites were associated with hippocampal and amygdalar volume. A total of 29 moderately to severely depressed unmedicated subjects who met DSM-IV criteria for MDD and 20 healthy controls (HCs) completed a structural MRI scan and provided blood sample for kynurenine metabolite analysis, performed using high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Cytokine concentrations were measured with ELISA and gray matter volumes were measured with the automated segmentation software, FreeSurfer. An a priori defined variable of interest, the KA/QA ratio, a putative neuroprotective index, trended lower in the MDD versus the HC group and correlated negatively with anhedonia but positively with the total hippocampal and amygdala volume in the MDD subjects. The post hoc data reduction methods yielded three principal components. Component 1 (interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, QA, and kynurenine) was significantly elevated in MDD participants versus the HCs, whereas component 2 (KA, tryptophan, and kynurenine) was positively correlated with hippocampal and amygdala volume within the MDD group. Our results raise the possibility that an immune-related imbalance in the relative metabolism of KA and QA predisposes to depression-associated dendritic atrophy and anhedonia.