In vivo 1H MRS study of potential associations between glutathione, oxidative stress and anhedonia in major depressive disorder

Kyle A.B. Lapidus, Vilma Gabbay, Xiangling Mao, Amy Johnson, James W. Murrough, Sanjay J. Mathew, Dikoma C. Shungu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Inflammation and oxidative stress are important mechanisms that have been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). Glutathione (GSH) is the most abundant antioxidant in human tissue, and a key index of antioxidant capacity and, hence, of oxidative stress. The aims of this investigation were to examine possible relationships between occipital GSH and dimensional measures of depressive symptom severity, including anhedonia - the reduced capacity to experience pleasure - and fatigue. We hypothesized that the magnitude of anhedonia and fatigue will be negatively correlated with occipital GSH levels in subjects with MDD and healthy controls (HC). Data for eleven adults with MDD and ten age- and sex-matched HC subjects were included in this secondary analysis of data from a previously published study. In vivo levels of GSH in a 3cm×3cm×2cm voxel of occipital cortex were obtained by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) on a 3T MR system, using the standard J-edited spin-echo difference technique. Anhedonia was assessed by combining interest items from depression and fatigue rating scales, and fatigue by use of the multidimensional fatigue inventory. Across the full sample of participants, anhedonia severity and occipital GSH levels were negatively correlated (r=-0.55, p=0.01). No associations were found between fatigue severity and GSH in this sample. These preliminary findings are potentially consistent with a pathophysiological role for GSH and oxidative stress in anhedonia and MDD. Larger studies in anhedonic depressed patients are indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - May 21 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anhedonia
  • GSH
  • Glutathione
  • MRS
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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