Developing an Electroencephalography-Based Model for Predicting Response to Antidepressant Medication

JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Sep 5;6(9):e2336094. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.36094.


Importance: Untreated depression is a growing public health concern, with patients often facing a prolonged trial-and-error process in search of effective treatment. Developing a predictive model for treatment response in clinical practice remains challenging.

Objective: To establish a model based on electroencephalography (EEG) to predict response to 2 distinct selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications.

Design, setting, and participants: This prognostic study developed a predictive model using EEG data collected between 2011 and 2017 from 2 independent cohorts of participants with depression: 1 from the first Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) group and the other from the Establishing Moderators and Biosignatures of Antidepressant Response for Clinical Care (EMBARC) consortium. Eligible participants included those aged 18 to 65 years who had a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Data were analyzed from January to December 2022.

Exposures: In an open-label trial, CAN-BIND participants received an 8-week treatment regimen of escitalopram treatment (10-20 mg), and EMBARC participants were randomized in a double-blind trial to receive an 8-week sertraline (50-200 mg) treatment or placebo treatment.

Main outcomes and measures: The model's performance was estimated using balanced accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity metrics. The model used data from the CAN-BIND cohort for internal validation, and data from the treatment group of the EMBARC cohort for external validation. At week 8, response to treatment was defined as a 50% or greater reduction in the primary, clinician-rated scale of depression severity.

Results: The CAN-BIND cohort included 125 participants (mean [SD] age, 36.4 [13.0] years; 78 [62.4%] women), and the EMBARC sertraline treatment group included 105 participants (mean [SD] age, 38.4 [13.8] years; 72 [68.6%] women). The model achieved a balanced accuracy of 64.2% (95% CI, 55.8%-72.6%), sensitivity of 66.1% (95% CI, 53.7%-78.5%), and specificity of 62.3% (95% CI, 50.1%-73.8%) during internal validation with CAN-BIND. During external validation with EMBARC, the model achieved a balanced accuracy of 63.7% (95% CI, 54.5%-72.8%), sensitivity of 58.8% (95% CI, 45.3%-72.3%), and specificity of 68.5% (95% CI, 56.1%-80.9%). Additionally, the balanced accuracy for the EMBARC placebo group (118 participants) was 48.7% (95% CI, 39.3%-58.0%), the sensitivity was 50.0% (95% CI, 35.2%-64.8%), and the specificity was 47.3% (95% CI, 35.9%-58.7%), suggesting the model's specificity in predicting SSRIs treatment response.

Conclusions and relevance: In this prognostic study, an EEG-based model was developed and validated in 2 independent cohorts. The model showed promising accuracy in predicting treatment response to 2 distinct SSRIs, suggesting potential applications for personalized depression treatment.