Effects of escitalopram therapy on functional brain controllability in major depressive disorder

Feng Fang, Beata Godlewska, Raymond Y. Cho, Sean I. Savitz, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Yingchun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Antidepressant drugs are the mainstay of treatment for patients with major depressive disorders (MDD). Given the critical role of the underlying neural control mechanism in the physiopathology of depression, this study aims to investigate the effects of escitalopram, a type of antidepressant drug, on the changes of functional brain controllability throughout the escitalopram treatment for MDD. We collected resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 20 unmedicated major depressive patients at baseline (visit 1, pre-treatment), one week (visit 2, 1-week after the onset of the treatment) and six weeks (visit 3, after the 6-week escitalopram treatment). Our results revealed that the global average and modal controllability of MDD patients were significantly larger and smaller, respectively, compared to healthy subjects (P < 0.01). Furthermore, the modal controllability rank of the frontoparietal network in depression patients was also significantly smaller than the healthy subjects (P < 0.01). However, throughout the escitalopram treatment, the global average and modal controllability, and the controllability of the default mode network and frontoparietal network of MDD patients were consistently changed to the healthy subjects' level. Our results also showed that the changes of global average and modal controllability measures can predict the improvements of clinical scores of the MDD patients as the escitalopram treatment advanced (P < 0.05). In conclusion, this study reveals promising brain controllability-based biomarkers to mechanistically understand and predict the effects of the escitalopram treatment for depression and maybe extended to predict and understand the effects of other interventions for other neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • Antidepressant
  • Depression
  • Escitalopram
  • Functional brain controllability
  • Brain
  • Citalopram/pharmacology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Antidepressive Agents/therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major/diagnostic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of escitalopram therapy on functional brain controllability in major depressive disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this