Intrinsic functional connectivity in late-life depression: trajectories over the course of pharmacotherapy in remitters and non-remitters

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Previous studies in late-life depression (LLD) have found that patients have altered intrinsic functional connectivity in the dorsal default mode network (DMN) and executive control network (ECN). We aimed to detect connectivity differences across a treatment trial among LLD patients as a function of remission status. LLD patients (N = 37) were enrolled into a 12-week trial of venlafaxine and underwent five functional magnetic resonance imaging resting state scans during treatment. Patients had no history of drug abuse, psychosis, dementia/neurodegenerative diseases or medical conditions with known effects on mood. We investigated whether there were differences in three networks: DMN, ECN and anterior salience network connectivity, as well as a whole brain centrality measure (eigenvector centrality). We found that remitters showed increases in ECN connectivity in the right precentral gyrus and decreases in DMN connectivity in the right inferior frontal gyrus and supramarginal gyrus. The ECN and DMN had regions (middle temporal gyrus and bilateral middle/inferior temporal/fusiform gyrus, respectively) that showed reversed effects (decreased ECN and increased DMN, respectively). Early changes in functional connectivity can occur after initial medication exposure. This study offers new data, indicating that functional connectivity changes differ depending on treatment response and can occur shortly after exposure to antidepressant medication.

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