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Durability of symptomatic responses obtained with adjunctive vagus nerve stimulation in treatment-resistant depression
Open Access Articles
  • Arun Kumar, LivaNova USA PLC
  • Mark T. Bunker, LivaNova USA PLC
  • Scott T. Aaronson, Sheppard Pratt Health System
  • Charles R. Conway, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Anthony J. Rothschild, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Giacomo Mordenti, LivaNova PLC
  • Augustus J. Rush, National University of Singapore
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Psychiatry
Publication Date
Document Type

Objective: To compare the durations of response achieved with adjunctive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS + TAU) vs treatment as usual (TAU) alone in treatment-resistant depression (TRD) over a 5-year period in the TRD registry.

Materials and methods: Data from 271 participants on TAU and 328 participants on VNS + TAU were analyzed. Response was defined as > /=50% decrease in baseline Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score at postbaseline visit and was considered retained until the decrease was < 40%. MADRS was obtained quarterly in year 1 and biannually thereafter. Time-to-events were estimated using Kaplan-Meier method and compared using log-rank test. HR was estimated using Cox proportion hazard model.

Results: In the VNS + TAU arm, 62.5% (205/328) of participants had a first response over 5 years compared with 39.9% (108/271) in TAU. The time to first response was significantly shorter for VNS + TAU than for TAU (P < 0.01). For responders in the first year, median time to relapse from first response was 10.1 months (Q1=4.2, Q3=31.5) for VNS + TAU vs 7.3 months (Q1=3.1, Q3=17.6) for TAU (P < 0.01). HR=0.6 (95% CI: 0.4, 0.9) revealed a significantly lower chance for relapse in VNS + TAU. Probability of retaining first response for a year was 0.39 (0.27, 0.51) for TAU and 0.47 (0.38, 0.56) for VNS + TAU. Timing of the onset of the response did not impact the durability of the response.

Conclusion: VNS therapy added to TAU in severe TRD leads to rapid onset and higher likelihood of response, and a greater durability of the response as compared to TAU alone.

  • depressive disorder,
  • durability of response,
  • longitudinal study,
  • treatment-resistant depression,
  • vagus nerve stimulation
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© 2019 Kumar et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (
DOI of Published Version

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2019 Feb 13;15:457-468. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S196665. eCollection 2019. Link to article on publisher's site

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0
Citation Information
Arun Kumar, Mark T. Bunker, Scott T. Aaronson, Charles R. Conway, et al.. "Durability of symptomatic responses obtained with adjunctive vagus nerve stimulation in treatment-resistant depression" Vol. 15 (2019) ISSN: 1176-6328 (Linking)
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