Objectives: Our aim was to evaluate differences in metabolite levels between unmedicated patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy controls, to assess changes in metabolites in patients after they completed an 8-week course of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and to exam the correlation between metabolites and depression severity.
Materials and methods: Sixteen patients with MDD and ten age- and gender-matched healthy controls were studied using 3D short echo-time (20 ms) magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) at 7 Tesla. Relative metabolite ratios were estimated in five regions of interest corresponding to insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), caudate, putamen, and thalamus.
Results: In all cases, MBCT reduced severity of depression. The ratio of total choline-containing compounds/total creatine (tCr) in the right caudate was significantly increased compared to that in healthy controls, while ratios of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA)/tCr in the left ACC, myo-inositol/tCr in the right insula, and glutathione/tCr in the left putamen were significantly decreased. At baseline, the severity of depression was negatively correlated with my-inositol/tCr in the left insula and putamen. The improvement in depression severity was significantly associated with changes in NAA/tCr in the left ACC.
Conclusions: This study has successfully evaluated regional differences in metabolites for patients with MDD who received MBCT treatment and in controls using 7 Tesla MRSI.
Keywords: 7 Tesla; MBCT; Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging; Major depressive disorder.