Characteristic distributions of regional cerebral blood flow changes in major depressive disorder patients: a pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL) study

J Affect Disord. 2014 Aug:165:59-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.04.032. Epub 2014 Apr 21.


Background: Most previous studies that examined regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) abnormalities in major depressive disorder (MDD) required the injection of radioisotopes into subjects. Here by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL) method which does not require radioisotopes, we examined rCBF in patients with MDD in comparison with that in patients with schizophrenia and healthy subjects, taking the regional cerebral gray matter volume into account.

Methods: Subjects were 27 patients with MDD, 42 with schizophrenia and 43 healthy volunteers who underwent 3-T MRI with pCASL. Obtained pCASL imaging data were subject to the voxel-by-voxel statistical analysis.

Results: There were significant reductions of rCBF in the right inferior prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortices (ACCs) in the MDD patients compared with the healthy controls. When compared with the schizophrenic patients, the MDD patients showed lower rCBF in the subgenual ACC and higher rCBF in left occipital region.

Limitation: The abnormalities of rCBF in MDD were known to reverse during symptom remission. Further study with follow-up period would bring the perception about the treatment response.

Conclusion: The rCBF reduction in the subgenual region may be a specific functional abnormality to MDD patients, which may provide a biological marker for MDD. The MRI with pCASL method is a promising tool to detect rCBF abnormalities controlling for gray matter volume in psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Biological parametric mapping; Cerebral blood flow; Major depressive disorder; Pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Spin Labels


  • Spin Labels