Change of Circulating Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Level and Reduction of Anhedonia are Associated in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Treated With rTMS

SOURCE: Frontiers in Psychiatry. 13 (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 806731.


AUTHORS: Elemery M.; Kiss S.; Dome P.; Pogany L.; Faludi G.; Lazary J.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been implicated in mediating the effect of antidepressant therapies as it plays a significant role in the neurogenesis. Anhedonia, an endophenotype of major depressive disorder (MDD), is related to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the major focus of brain stimulation in MDD. The aim of our study was to analyze the change of serum VEGF level after rTMS treatment in association with anhedonia.

MATERIAL(S) AND METHOD(S): A dataset of 17 patients with TRD who were treated with antidepressants and bilateral rTMS for 2 x 5 days was analyzed. Depression was measured by the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Scale (MADRS) and anhedonia by the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS) for monitoring the symptom changes. The serum VEGF levels and symptoms were assessed on the first (V1), on the 14th (V2), and on the 28th day (V3). The level of VEGF was measured by ELISA assay.

RESULT(S): There was no significant association between MADRS scores and serum VEGF levels at any timepoint. The decrease in the SHAPS score was significantly associated with the increase in VEGF level between V1 and V2 (p = 0.001). The VEGF levels were significantly higher in non-responders than in responders (p = 0.04). The baseline VEGF level has been proven as a significant predictor of treatment response (p = 0.045).

CONCLUSION(S): Our results suggest that serum VEGF can be sensitive to the changes of anhedonia during rTMS treatment. Considering that the most widely used depression scales are not applicable for the assessment of anhedonia, measurement of anhedonia in rTMS treatment studies of patients with TRD can be suggested as more appropriate data on distinct pathogenic pathways and specific biomarkers of the disorder.


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