Abnormal functional connectivity of the anterior cingulate cortex subregions mediates the association between anhedonia and sleep quality in major depressive disorder

J Affect Disord. 2022 Jan 1;296:400-407. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.09.104. Epub 2021 Oct 1.


Background: The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is a crucial region in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the relationship between functional alterations of the ACC subregions, anhedonia and sleep quality remains unclear in MDD patients.

Methods: The resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of ACC subregions was measured in 41 first-episode medication-naïve MDD patients and 63 healthy controls who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Between-group differences were examined using two-sample t-test. Furthermore, correlation and mediation analyses were carried out to investigate the relationships between the aberrant rsFC of ACC subregions, anhedonia and sleep quality in the patients and controls.

Results: Compared to healthy controls, the MDD patients exhibited increased rsFC of ACC subregions to areas of the anterior default mode network (DMN) and showed decreased rsFC of the right subgenual ACC to left precuneus (PCUN), which belongs to the posterior DMN. In MDD group, the sleep quality and consummatory anhedonia are correlated with some rsFC, which involves the angular gyrus (ANG) and superior frontal gyrus (SFG). More importantly, the rsFC between the right perigenual ACC and left SPG mediates the association between anhedonia and sleep quality in MDD.

Limitations: The cross-sectional design and the subjective questionaries for assessment.

Conclusion: These findings confirm the functional alterations of the ACC subregions and reveal the mediating role of ACC subregions in sleep and reward dysfunction in MDD.

Keywords: Anhedonia; Anterior cingulate cortex; Functional connectivity; Major depressive disorder; Sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anhedonia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Sleep Quality