A Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial of Deep Brain Stimulation of the Ventral Capsule/Ventral Striatum for Chronic Treatment-Resistant Depression

Published:December 12, 2014DOI:



      Multiple open-label trials of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), including those targeting the ventral capsule/ventral striatum target, have shown encouraging response rates. However, no randomized controlled trials of DBS for TRD have been published.


      Thirty patients with TRD participated in a sham-controlled trial of DBS at the ventral capsule/ventral striatum target for TRD. Patients were randomized to active versus sham DBS treatment in a blinded fashion for 16 weeks, followed by an open-label continuation phase. The primary outcome measure was response, defined as a 50% or greater improvement on the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale from baseline.


      There was no significant difference in response rates between the active (3 of 15 subjects; 20%) and control (2 of 14 subjects; 14.3%) treatment arms and no significant difference between change in Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale scores as a continuous measure upon completion of the 16-week controlled phase of the trial. The response rates at 12, 18, and 24 months during the open-label continuation phase were 20%, 26.7%, and 23.3%, respectively.


      The results of this first randomized controlled study of DBS for the treatment of TRD did not demonstrate a significant difference in response rates between the active and control groups at the end of the 16-week controlled phase. However, a range of 20% to 26.7% of patients did achieve response at any time during the open-label continuation phase. Future studies, perhaps utilizing alternative study designs and stimulation parameters, are needed.


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