Psychiatry Investig.  2019 Sep;16(9):662-670. 10.30773/pi.2019.07.25.2.

Promising Neuroimaging Biomarkers in Depression

  • 1Institute of Biophotonics, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 2Psychiatry & Neuroscience Clinic, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Yeezen General Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan.


The neuroimaging has been applied in the study of pathophysiology in major depressive disorder (MDD). In this review article, several kinds of methodologies of neuroimaging would be discussed to summarize the promising biomarkers in MDD. For the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetoencephalography field, the literature review showed the potentially promising roles of frontal lobes, such as anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). In addition, the limbic regions, such as hippocampus and amygdala, might be the potentially promising biomarkers for MDD. The structures and functions of ACC, DLPFC, OFC, amygdala and hippocampus might be confirmed as the biomarkers for the prediction of antidepressant treatment responses and for the pathophysiology of MDD. The functions of cognitive control and emotion regulation of these regions might be crucial for the establishment of biomarkers. The near-infrared spectroscopy studies demonstrated that blood flow in the frontal lobe, such as the DLPFC and OFC, might be the biomarkers for the field of near-infrared spectroscopy. The electroencephalography also supported the promising role of frontal regions, such as the ACC, DLPFC and OFC in the biomarker exploration, especially for the sleep electroencephalogram to detect biomarkers in MDD. The positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in MDD demonstrated the promising biomarkers for the frontal and limbic regions, such as ACC, DLPFC and amygdala. However, additional findings in brainstem and midbrain were also found in PET and SPECT. The promising neuroimaging biomarkers of MDD seemed focused in the fronto-limbic regions.


Major depressive disorder; Anterior cingulate cortex; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Orbitofrontal cortex; Hippocampus; Fronto-limbic

MeSH Terms

Brain Stem
Depressive Disorder, Major
Frontal Lobe
Gyrus Cinguli
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Positron-Emission Tomography
Prefrontal Cortex
Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
Tomography, Emission-Computed
Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
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