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Background: Identification of biomarkers predicting therapeutic outcome of antidepressant treatment is one of the most important tasks in current research because it may transform the lengthy process of finding the right treatment for a given individual with depression. In the current study, we explored the potential of pretreatment pregenual anterior cingulate cortex activity as a putative biomarker of treatment response. Methods: Thirty-two medication-free patients with depression were treated for 6 weeks with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, escitalopram. Before treatment began, patients underwent an fMRI scan testing response to brief, masked, presentations of facial expression depicting sadness and happiness. Results: After 6 weeks of treatment, there were 20 selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor responders and 12 nonresponders. Increased pretreatment pregenual anterior cingulate cortex activity to sad vs happy faces was observed in responders relative to nonresponders. A leave-one-out analysis suggested that activity in the anterior cingulate cortex was able to predict response status at the level of the individual participant. Conclusions: The study supports the notion of pregenual anterior cingulate cortex as a promising predictor of antidepressant response.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Neuropsychopharmacol

Publication Date





988 - 996