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Frequency dependence of antidepressant response to left prefrontal repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as a function of baseline cerebral glucose metabolism



Recent studies suggest that both high frequency (10-20 Hz) and low frequency (1 Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have an antidepressant effect in some individuals. Electrophysiologic data indicate that high frequency rTMS enhances neuronal firing efficacy and that low frequency rTMS has the opposite effect.


We investigated the antidepressant effects of 10 daily left prefrontal 1 Hz versus 20 Hz rTMS with the hypothesis that within a given subject, antidepressant response would differ by frequency and vary as a function of baseline cerebral glucose metabolism. After baseline PET scans utilizing -Fluorodeoxyglucose, thirteen subjects participated in a randomized crossover trial of 2 weeks of 20 Hz paired with 2 weeks 1 Hz or placebo rTMS.


We found a negative correlation between degree of antidepressant response after 1 Hz compared to 20 Hz rTMS (r = -0.797, p < .004). Additionally, better response to 20 Hz was associated with the degree of baseline hypometabolism, whereas response to 1 Hz rTMS tended to be associated with baseline hypermetabolism.


These preliminary results suggest that antidepressant response to rTMS might vary as a function of stimulation frequency and may depend on pretreatment cerebral metabolism. Further studies combining rTMS and functional neuroimaging are needed.

Biol Psychiatry 1999 Dec 15;46(12):1603-13
Kimbrell TA, Little JT, Dunn RT, Frye MA, Greenberg BD, Wassermann EM, Repella JD, Danielson AL, Willis MW, Benson BE, Speer AM, Osuch E, George MS, Post RM.
Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, Psychiatry Department, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, USA.

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