Local and Transient Changes of Sleep Spindle Density During Series of Prefrontal Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Patients With a Major Depressive Episode

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 15 (2022)
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The neuromodulatory effects of brain stimulation therapies notably involving repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on nocturnal sleep, which is critically disturbed in major depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders, remain largely undetermined. We have previously reported in major depression patients that prefrontal rTMS sessions enhanced their slow wave activity power, but not their sigma power which is related to sleep spindle activity, for electrodes located nearby the stimulation site. In the present study, we focused on measuring the spindle density to investigate cumulative effects of prefrontal rTMS sessions on the sleep spindle activity. Fourteen male inpatients diagnosed with medication-resistant unipolar or bipolar depression were recruited and subjected to 10 daily rTMS sessions targeting the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. All-night polysomnography data was acquired at four time points: Adaptation, Baseline, Post-1, and Post-2. Clinical and cognitive evaluations were longitudinally performed at Baseline, Post-1, and Post-2 time points to explore associations with the spindle density changes. The PSG data from 12 of 14 patients was analyzed to identify sleep spindles across the sleep stages II–IV at four electrode sites: F3, F4, P3, and P4. Statistical analysis by two-way ANOVA revealed that spindle density at F3 increased at Post-1 but decreased at Post-2 time points. Moreover, the local and transient increase of spindle density at F3 was associated with the previously reported SWA power increase at F3, possibly reflecting a shared mechanism of thalamocortical synchronization locally enhanced by diurnal prefrontal rTMS sessions. Clinical and cognitive correlations were not observed in this dataset. These findings suggest that diurnal rTMS sessions transiently modulate nocturnal sleep spindle activity at the stimulation site, although clinical and cognitive effects of the local changes warrant further investigation.



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