The Efficacy and Prediction of Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-resistant Depression

  • End date
    Dec 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Ruijin Hospital
Updated on 3 June 2022
depressive episode
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
major depressive disorder
brain stimulation


Several open-label trials have shown the therapeutic promise of deep brain stimulation (DBS) targeted to striatal and surrounding capsular areas in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, the results of placebo-controlled trials have been mixed, with one showing a large difference between active and sham DBS and another finding no difference.

Main aim of this study is establishing whether active DBS results in more treatment responders than sham DBS. Secondary aims are establishing an adverse events profile, establishing effects on quality of life,neuropsychological and neuroimaging measures, and finding predictors of response.


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a highly prevalent psychiatric disorder, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 14.6% across high-income countries.Effective therapeutic options for MDD include psychotherapy, different classes of antidepressants, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Nevertheless, up to 30% of patients do not respond to four consecutive antidepressant strategies and 52% of pharmacotherapy resistant patients do not respond to ECT.Such patients are designated an advanced stage of Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD), which is associated with more hospitalizations, more suicide attempts, and higher costs than non-TRD patients.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a promising therapeutic option for TRD patients. DBS consists of implanting electrodes in specific brain areas and then optimizing stimulation parameters (e.g. voltage, frequency, pulse width) to modulate brain activity of the targeted area. Since 2005, several open label trials have reported promising effects of DBS in TRD, targeting different brain structures involved in the neurobiology of MDD: the Subcallosal Cingulate Gyrus (SCG),Medial Forebrain Bundle (MFB),Ventral Capsule/Ventral Striatum (VC/VS), and Nucleus Accumbens (NAc). Response rates, defined as a symptom decrease of at least 50%, range from 30% to 90% with most studies finding a response rate around 50%.

However, results of the first two randomized trials are mixed. The first randomized, controlled trial (RCT) of VC/VS DBS in TRD did not find differences in response rates following active (3 of 14 patients) or sham stimulation (2 of 15 patients) after four months of stimulation. In contrast, our group found a strong antidepressant effect in 16 patients with TRD following active ventral Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule (vALIC) DBS compared to sham stimulation in a randomized crossover phase.

Therefore, this trial aims to establishing whether active DBS results in more treatment responders than sham DBS. Secondary aims are establishing an adverse events profile, establishing effects on quality of life,neuropsychological and neuroimaging measures, and finding predictors of response.

Condition Major Depressive Disorder, Deep Brain Stimulation
Treatment Deep brain stimulation(Active), Deep brain stimulation(sham)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04530942
SponsorRuijin Hospital
Last Modified on3 June 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Primary diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder according to the ICD-10 criteria based on a psychiatric interview
Age: 18-65 years old
HAMD-17 total ≥17
Chronic illness with current episode ≥ 24 months duration and/or Illness with at least a total of 4 lifetime episodes (including current episode≥ 12 months) and a minimum of 5 years since the onset of the first depressive episode
Treatment refractory defined as failure of: at least 3 adequate treatments from at least two distinctly different classes (SSRI, SNRI, NaSSA, TCA +, lithium-addition) for a period of 6-8 weeks or more weeks. Adequate psychotherapy. At least 1 session of ECT, for which the series of ECT was terminated either due to adverse effects or insufficient response (including at least 6 sessions of bilateral ECT); unavailable, rejective or intolerable to ECT
remain stable with the current anti-depressive medicine for the last month
Able and willing to give written informed consent
Able to fully understand the consequences of the procedure

Exclusion Criteria

Schizophrenia /history of psychosis unrelated to MDD
Severe personality disorder (assessed by SCID-II)
Abnormal brain MRI
Neurological disease (e.g., Parkinson's disease)
Previous sterosurgery
Any medical contraindication to surgery
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note