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Brain blood flow gives clues to treating depression

RESTON, Va.The usefulness of established molecular imaging/nuclear medicine approaches in identifying the hows and whys of brain dysfunction and its potential in providing immediately useful information in treating depression are emphasized in a study in the August Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Individuals in a depressed emotional state have impaired cerebral (brain) blood flow, explained Omer Bonne, head of inpatient psychiatry and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. Clinical improvement in depression is accompanied by diverse changes in cerebral blood flow, according to whether patients are treated with medication or electroconvulsive treatment, he noted. We found that antidepressant medicines normalized decreased brain blood flow usually seen in patients with depression, while electroconvulsive treatment was associated with additional decreases in blood flow, he reported. Currently, clinical psychiatry is based almost solely on subjective observer-based judgment. Our findings suggest that objective imaging evaluations could support subjective clinical decisions, he said.

Using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography)a molecular imaging/nuclear medicine procedure in which injected radiotracers are utilized to produce three-dimensional, computer-reconstructed images that reveal information about both structure and functioninvestigators confirmed already published findings that cerebral blood flow in depressed patients is lower than in healthy control subjects, especially in frontal, limbic and subcortical brain regions. We wanted to see whether improvement in clinical depression is accompanied by changesincreasesin cerebral blood flow, he said. We found that cerebral blood flow increased only in patients whose depression improved. In contrast, cerebral blood flow remained unchanged in patients whose depressed condition persisted, detailed Bonne
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Contact: Maryann Verrillo
mverrillo@snm.org
703-652-6773
Society of Nuclear Medicine
8-Aug-2007


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