Review Articles|Articles in Press

Deep Brain Stimulation of the Medial Forebrain Bundle for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Systematic Review Focused on the Long-Term Antidepressive Effect



      Major depression affects millions of people worldwide and has important social and economic consequences. Since up to 30% of patients do not respond to several lines of antidepressive drugs, deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been evaluated for the management of treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The superolateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (slMFB) appears as a “hypothesis-driven target” because of its role in the reward-seeking system, which is dysfunctional in depression. Although initial results of slMFB-DBS from open-label studies were promising and characterized by a rapid clinical response, long-term outcomes of neurostimulation for TRD deserve particular attention. Therefore, we performed a systematic review focused on the long-term outcome of slMFB-DBS.

      Materials and Methods

      A literature search using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria was conducted to identify all studies reporting changes in depression scores after one-year follow-up and beyond. Patient, disease, surgical, and outcome data were extracted for statistical analysis. The Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (ΔMADRS) was used as the clinical outcome, defined as percentage reduction from baseline to follow-up evaluation. Responders’ and remitters’ rates were also calculated.


      From 56 studies screened for review, six studies comprising 34 patients met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. After one year of active stimulation, ΔMADRS was 60.7% ± 4%; responders’ and remitters’ rates were 83.8% and 61.5%, respectively. At the last follow-up, four to five years after the implantation, ΔMADRS reached 74.7% ± 4.6%. The most common side effects were stimulation related and reversible with parameter adjustments.


      slMFB-DBS appears to have a strong antidepressive effect that increases over the years. Nevertheless, to date, the overall number of patients receiving implantations is limited, and the slMFB-DBS surgical technique seems to have an important impact on the clinical outcome. Further multicentric studies in a larger population are needed to confirm slMFB-DBS clinical outcomes.


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