Evaluating global brain connectivity as an imaging marker for depression: influence of preprocessing strategies and placebo-controlled ketamine treatment.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with altered global brain connectivity (GBC), as assessed via resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI). Previous studies found that antidepressant treatment with ketamine normalized aberrant GBC changes in the prefrontal and cingulate cortices, warranting further investigations of GBC as a putative imaging marker. These results were obtained via global signal regression (GSR). This study is an independent replication of that analysis using a separate dataset. GBC was analyzed in 28 individuals with MDD and 22 healthy controls (HCs) at baseline, post placebo, and post ketamine. To investigate the effects of preprocessing, three distinct pipelines were used: (1) regression of white matter (WM)/cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) signals only (BASE); (2) WM/CSF + GSR (GSR); and (3) WM/CSF + physiological parameter regression (PHYSIO). Reduced GBC was observed in individuals with MDD only at baseline in the anterior and medial cingulate cortices, as well as in the prefrontal cortex only after regressing the global signal. Ketamine had no effect compared to baseline or placebo in either group in any pipeline. PHYSIO did not resemble GBC preprocessed with GSR. These results concur with several studies that used GSR to study GBC. Further investigations are warranted into disease-specific components of global fMRI signals that may drive these results and of GBCr as a potential imaging marker in MDD.