Predictors of response to repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the treatment of major depressive disorder

Encephale. 2017 Feb;43(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2016.11.002. Epub 2016 Dec 26.


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), based on the principle of electromagnetic induction, consists of applying series of magnetic impulses to the cerebral cortex so as to modulate neurone activity in a target zone. This technique, still experimental, could prove promising in the field of psychiatry, in particular for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It is important for the clinician to be able to assess the response potential of a given patient to rTMS, and this among other things requires relevant predictive factors to be available. This review of the literature aims to determine and analyse reported predictive factors for therapeutic response to rTMS treatment in major depressive disorder. Different parameters are studied, in particular age, the severity of the depressive episode, psychological dimensions, genetic factors, cerebral blood flows via cerebral imagery, and neuronavigation. The factors found to be associated with better therapeutic response were young age, low level of severity of the depressive episode, motor threshold intensity over 100%, more than 1000 stimulations per session, more than 10 days treatment, L/L genotype on the 5-HTTLPR transporter gene, C/C homozygosity on the promotor regions of the 5-HT1A receptor gene, Val/Val homozygosity on the BDNF gene, cordance analyses by EEG, and finally the accurate localisation provided by neuronavigation. The authors conclude that investigations in larger patient samples are required in the future, and that the work already achieved should provide lines of approach for the coming experimental studies.

Keywords: Depressive disorder; Dépression; Facteurs prédictifs; Predictor; RTMS; Repetitive trancranial magnetic stimulation; Review; Revue de la littérature; rTMS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Calibration
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / standards
  • Treatment Outcome