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No change in N-acetyl aspartate in first episode of moderate depression after antidepressant treatment: 1H magnetic spectroscopy study of left amygdala and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Authors Janović M, Kalember P, Janović Š, Hrabač P, Grošić P, Grošić V, Radoš M, Henigsberg N

Received 23 March 2014

Accepted for publication 5 May 2014

Published 17 September 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1753—1762


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Maja Bajs Janović,1,3 Petra Kalember,2 Špiro Janović,1,3 Pero Hrabač,2 Petra Folnegović Grošić,1 Vladimir Grošić,4 Marko Radoš,5 Neven Henigsberg2,6

1University Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Hospital Center Zagreb, Zagreb, 2Polyclinic Neuron, Croatian Institute for Brain Research, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, 3University North, Varaždin, 4Psychiatric Hospital Sveti Ivan, Zagreb, 5University Department of Radiology, Clinical Hospital Center Zagreb, Zagreb, 6Psychiatric Clinic Vrapče, Zagreb, Croatia

The role of brain metabolites as biological correlates of the intensity, symptoms, and course of major depression has not been determined. It has also been inconclusive whether the change in brain metabolites, measured with proton magnetic spectroscopy, could be correlated with the treatment outcome.
Methods: Proton magnetic spectroscopy was performed in 29 participants with a first episode of moderate depression occurring in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left amygdala at baseline and after 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment with escitalopram. The Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Beck Depression Inventory were used to assess the intensity of depression at baseline and at the endpoint of the study. At endpoint, the participants were identified as responders (n=17) or nonresponders (n=12) to the antidepressant therapy.
Results: There was no significant change in the N-acetyl aspartate/creatine ratio (NAA/Cr) after treatment with antidepressant medication. The baseline and endpoint NAA/Cr ratios were not significantly different between the responder and nonresponder groups. The correlation between NAA/Cr and changes in the scores of clinical scales were not significant in either group.
Conclusion: This study could not confirm any significant changes in NAA after antidepressant treatment in the first episode of moderate depression, or in regard to therapy response in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or left amygdala. Further research is necessary to conclude whether NAA alterations in the first episode of depression could possibly be different from chronic or late-onset depression, and whether NAA alterations in stress-induced (reactive) depression are different from endogenous depression. The potential role of NAA as a biomarker of a treatment effect has yet to be established.

Keywords: depression, spectroscopy, antidepressant, N-acetyl-aspartate

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