Resting-state fMRI to identify the brain correlates of treatment response to medications in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: lessons from the CUNMET study
Neuroimaging research seeks to identify biomarkers to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although clinical translation of findings remains distant. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (R-fMRI) is increasingly being used to characterize functional connectivity in the brain. Despite mixed results to date and multiple methodological challenges, dominant hypotheses implicate hyperconnectivity across brain networks in patients with ADHD, which could be the target of pharmacological treatments. We describe the experience and results of the Clinica Universidad de Navarra (Spain) Metilfenidato (CUNMET) pilot study. CUNMET tested the feasibility of identifying R-fMRI markers of clinical response in children with ADHD undergoing naturalistical pharmacological treatments. We analyzed cross-sectional data from 56 patients with ADHD (18 treated with methylphenidate, 18 treated with lisdexamfetamine, and 20 treatment-naive patients). Standard preprocessing and statistical analyses with attention to control for head motion and correction for multiple comparisons were performed. The only results that survived correction were noted in contrasts of children who responded clinically to lisdexamfetamine after long-term treatment vs. treatment-naive patients. In these children, we observed stronger negative correlations (anticorrelations) across nodes in six brain networks, which is consistent with higher across-network functional segregation in patients treated with lisdexamfetamine, i.e., less inter-network interference than in treatment-naive patients. We also note the lessons learned, which could help those pursuing clinically relevant multidisciplinary research in ADHD en route to eventual personalized medicine. To advance reproducible open science, our report is accompanied with links providing access to our data and analytic scripts.