Deep brain stimulation of the “medial forebrain bundle”: sustained efficacy of antidepressant effect over years

Albert J. Fenoy, Paul E. Schulz, Marsal Sanches, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Christina L. Burrows, Bashar Asir, Christopher R. Conner, Joao Quevedo, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) to the superolateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) has emerged as a quite efficacious therapy for treatment resistant depression (TRD), leading to rapid antidepressant effects. In this study, we complete our assessment of our first 10 enrolled patients throughout one year post-implantation, showing sustained antidepressant effect up to 5 years. The primary outcome measure was a 50% reduction in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score, which was interpreted as a response. Deterministic fiber tracking was used to individually map the target area. An insertional effect was seen during the 4-week sham stimulation phase (29% mean MADRS reduction, p = 0.02). However, after 2 weeks of initiating stimulation, five patients met response criteria (47% mean MADRS reduction, p < 0.001). One patient withdrew from study participation at 6 weeks. Twelve weeks after initiating stimulation, six of nine remaining patients had a >50% decrease in MADRS scores relative to baseline (52% mean MADRS reduction, p = 0.001); these same six patients continued to meet response criteria at 52 weeks (63% overall mean MADRS reduction, p < 0.001). Four of five patients who achieved the 5-year time point analysis continued to be responders (81% mean MADRS reduction, p < 0.001). Evaluation of modulated fiber tracts reveals significant common prefrontal/orbitofrontal connectivity to the target region in all responders. Key points learned from this study that we can incorporate in future protocols to better elucidate the effect of this therapy are a longer blinded sham stimulation phase and use of scheduled discontinuation concomitant with functional imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2546-2553
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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