A pilot study of cortical glutathione in youth with depression

Rachel D. Freed, Cecilia Hollenhorst, Nora Weiduschat, Xiangling Mao, Guoxin Kang, Dikoma C. Shungu, Vilma Gabbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Aim This study used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) to measure in vivo brain glutathione (GSH) in adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD), and explored the relationship between GSH and illness severity and chronicity. Secondarily, associations between GSH and anhedonia, a key symptom of MDD in adolescents, were investigated. Methods Occipital cortex GSH levels were obtained in 19 psychotropic medication-free adolescents with MDD (ages 12–21) and compared to those in eight healthy control adolescents. Correlations between GSH levels and anhedonia severity were examined both in the full participant sample and within the MDD group. Within the MDD group, correlations between GSH levels and illness severity and chronicity were assessed. Results Occipital GSH levels were lower in adolescents with MDD compared to controls, but did not correlate with anhedonia (either within the MDD group or the full sample), MDD severity, or onset. There were also no group differences in levels of total choline, creatine, and N-acetylaspartate – all neurometabolites that were simultaneously detected with 1H MRS. Conclusions Although preliminary, findings add new data to support the role of oxidative stress in MDD and suggest that lower GSH may be a potential marker of MDD early on in the course of illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StatePublished - Dec 30 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anhedonia
  • Antioxidants
  • Inflammation
  • Mood disorders
  • Occipital lobe
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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