Magnetic Seizure therapy (MST) is an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) but its mechanism of action is not fully understood. The present study sought to characterize neuroimaging correlates of response and side effects of MST in a MDD cohort.
Fifteen severe MDD patients underwent a six-day course of MST treatment to the vertex. Before and after treatment, participants received rs-fMRI and structural MRI scans as well as assessments of depressive symptoms and neuropsychological functioning. 10 healthy volunteers received functional and structural MRI scans at similar time intervals.
MST treatment was associated with increased functional connectivity between the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) and the parietal cortex, which positively correlated with clinical improvement. In contrast, greater decrease in functional connectivity between the right anterior hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex was correlated with lesser clinical and cognitive improvements. Changes in gray matter volume were evident in the bilateral parietal cortex, but were not associated with treatment outcomes.
The sample size was small and results warrant replication.
This is the first quantitative fMRI study to investigate the neural correlates of MST treatment for MDD patients. While preliminary, these findings suggest that the modulation of sgACC activity is integral to the antidepressant mechanisms of MST. In contrast, changes in the hippocampus were not associated with symptom improvement, and appeared to contribute instead to side effects. Future studies in larger samples are warranted and explore the effect of e-electric field and correlates of response.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.