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Depression Types Can Be Discerned by Brain Blood Flow

Last Updated: May 01, 2009.

Refractory and nonrefractory depressive disorder are distinguished by differing perfusion in the regions of the brain, which might be useful in diagnosis and customizing therapy, according to a study reported in the May issue of Radiology.

FRIDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Refractory and nonrefractory depressive disorder are distinguished by differing perfusion in the regions of the brain, which might be useful in diagnosis and customizing therapy, according to a study reported in the May issue of Radiology.

Su Lui, Ph.D., of West China Hospital in Chengdu, China, and colleagues enrolled 24 subjects with refractory depressive disorder (RDD), 37 subjects with nonrefractory depressive disorder (NDD), and a control group of 42 healthy subjects. The subjects' brains were imaged using a 3-T MRI. Researchers conducted Voxel-based analysis of the images, focusing on perfusion patterns in the bilateral hippocampi, thalami, and lentiform nuclei.

Subjects with RDD had decreased perfusion in the bilateral frontal and bilateral thalamic regions, while the NDD subjects exhibited reduced perfusion in the left prefrontal cortex and increased perfusion in the limbic-striatal region, the researchers report. In region-of-interest analysis, the NDD subjects had greater blood flow in the left and right hippocampi and right lentiform nucleus than the RDD and control subjects.

"This study revealed alterations of regional perfusion in the brains of patients with RDD that differed from those in patients with NDD. These results are consistent with the concept that RDD is associated with decreased activity of the bilateral prefrontal areas; and NDD, with decreased activity of left frontal areas in conjunction with overactivity of the bilateral limbic system," the authors write.

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