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Pretreatment Reward Sensitivity and Frontostriatal Resting-State Functional Connectivity Are Associated With Response to Bupropion After Sertraline Nonresponse

      Abstract

      Background

      Standard guidelines recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors as first-line antidepressants for adults with major depressive disorder, but success is limited and patients who fail to benefit are often switched to non–selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor agents. This study investigated whether brain- and behavior-based markers of reward processing might be associated with response to bupropion after sertraline nonresponse.

      Methods

      In a two-stage, double-blinded clinical trial, 296 participants were randomized to receive 8 weeks of sertraline or placebo in stage 1. Individuals who responded continued on another 8-week course of the same intervention in stage 2, while sertraline and placebo nonresponders crossed over to bupropion and sertraline, respectively. Data from 241 participants were analyzed. The stage 2 sample comprised 87 patients with major depressive disorder who switched medication and 38 healthy control subjects. A total of 116 participants with major depressive disorder treated with sertraline in stage 1 served as an independent replication sample. The probabilistic reward task and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging were administered at baseline.

      Results

      Greater pretreatment reward sensitivity and higher resting-state functional connectivity between bilateral nucleus accumbens and rostral anterior cingulate cortex were associated with positive response to bupropion but not sertraline. Null findings for sertraline were replicated in the stage 1 sample.

      Conclusions

      Pretreatment reward sensitivity and frontostriatal connectivity may identify patients likely to benefit from bupropion following selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor failures. Results call for a prospective replication based on these biomarkers to advance clinical care.

      Keywords

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