Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subcallosal cingulate white matter has shown promise as an intervention for patients with chronic, unremitting depression. To test the safety and efficacy of DBS for treatment-resistant depression, a prospective, randomised, sham-controlled trial was conducted.
Participants with treatment-resistant depression were implanted with a DBS system targeting bilateral subcallosal cingulate white matter and randomised to 6 months of active or sham DBS, followed by 6 months of open-label subcallosal cingulate DBS. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00617162.
90 participants were randomly assigned to active or sham stimulation between April 10, 2008, and Nov 21, 2012. Both groups showed improvement, but there was no statistically significant difference in response during the double-blind, sham-controlled phase (12 [20%] patients in the stimulation group vs five [17%] patients in the control group). 28 patients experienced 40 serious adverse events; eight of these (in seven patients) were deemed to be related to the study device or surgery.
This study confirmed the safety and feasibility of subcallosal cingulate DBS as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression but did not show statistically significant antidepressant efficacy in a 6-month double-blind, sham-controlled trial. Future studies are needed to investigate factors such as clinical features or electrode placement that might improve efficacy.
Holtzheimer PE, Husain MM, Lisanby SH, Taylor SF, Whitworth LA, McClintock S, Slavin KV, Berman J, McKhann GM, Patil PG, Rittberg BR, Abosch A, Pandurangi AK, Holloway KL, Lam RW, Honey CR, Neimat JS, Henderson JM, DeBattista C, Rothschild AJ, Pilitsis JG, Espinoza RT, Petrides G, Mogilner AY, Matthews K, Peichel D, Gross RE, Hamani C, Lozano AM, Mayberg HS: Subcallosal cingulate deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression: a multisite, randomised, sham-controlled trial. Lancet Psychiatry 4(11):839-849 (2017).