To examine the antidepressant efficacy and response predictors of R-DLPFC-LF rTMS for antidepressant-nonresponding BD.
We conducted a single-blind randomized sham-controlled trial for 54 (28 sham, 26 active) patients with antidepressant-nonresponding BD (baseline MADRS ≥ 20). Patients received 15 daily sessions of active or sham neuronavigated rTMS (Figure-of-8 coil, five 1 Hz 60 s 110% RMT trains). Outcome measures included depressive response (≥ 50% MADRS reduction, CGI ≤ 2) and remission (MADRS < 7, CGI = 1) rates, treatment emergent hypo/mania (YMRS), depressive and anxiety symptoms (HAM-A).
48 patients (25 sham, 23 active) completed treatment, with 3 drop-outs each in active and sham groups. Active rTMS did not produce superior response or remission rates at endpoint or 6 or 12 weeks (ps > 0.05). There was no significant group * time interaction (ps > 0.05) in a multivariate ANOVA with MADRS, HAMA and YMRS as dependent variables. Exploratory analysis found MADRS improvement to be moderated by baseline anxiety (p = 0.02) and melancholia (p = 0.03) at week 3, and depressive onset at weeks 6 (p = 0.03) and 12 (p = 0.04). In subjects with below-mean anxiety (HAMA < 20.7, n = 24), MADRS improvement from active rTMS was superior to sham at week 3 (ITT, t = 2.49, p = 0.04, Cohen's d = 1.05). No seizures were observed. Groups did not differ in treatment-emergent hypomania (p = 0.1).
Larger sample size might be needed to power subgroup analyses. Moderation analyses were exploratory. Single-blind design. Unblinding before follow-up assessments due to ethical reasons.
1-Hz 110% RMT (5 × 60 s trains) R-DLPFC-LF rTMS was not effective for antidepressant non-responding BD but may be further investigated at increased dosage and/or in BD patients with low anxiety. Trial registration CCRB Clinical Trials Registry, CUHK, CUHK_CCT00440. Registered 04 December 2014,

© 2021. The Author(s).