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Use of fMRI to predict psychiatric adverse effects of interferon treatment for Hepatitis C – preliminary report

Authors Donald H Marks, Mehdi Adineh, Binquan Wang, Sudeepa Gupta

Published 15 November 2007 Volume 2007:3(5) Pages 655—667

Donald H Marks1,2, Mehdi Adineh2, Binquan Wang2, Sudeepa Gupta2

1Department of Medicine, Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; 2Research Associate, Wallace Kettering Neuroscience Institute, Kettering, Ohio, USA

Abstract: Interferon alfa2 (IFN-α2) is a parenterally administered cytokine used to treat patients with Hepatitis C and B, and malignancy. Interferon (INF) has a relatively high rate of central nervous system (CNS) adverse effects, including agitation, depression, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, suicidal thought and drug craving. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we studied patients with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection who were not more than mildly clinically depressed at baseline for their CNS reaction to IFN-α2. During fMRI, patients underwent visual stimulation with pictures designed to induce feelings of depression. In the two patients who became clinically depressed or markedly anxious while on treatment with interferon, but not in patients who did not experience these effects, there was a significant activation in specific areas of the brain known to be involved with depression, along with an increase above baseline in the Beck Depression Scale for the patient who developed INF-induced depression. The activation pattern differed from that previously observed for endogenous depression, indicating that INF-induced depression may differ in its underlying neuropathology. Functional magnetic resonance imaging can be an important tool in understanding and monitoring for (INF and other) medication-induced CNS effects, and response to treatment.
Keywords: fMRI, interferon, depression, anxiety, agitation, assay, SSRI, antidepressant

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