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Plewnia, Christian; Brendel, Bettina; Schwippel, Tobias; Nieratschker, Vanessa; Ethofer, Thomas; Kammer, Thomas; Padberg, Frank; Martus, Peter and Fallgatter, Andreas J. (2021): Treatment of major depressive disorder with bilateral theta burst stimulation: study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial (TBS-D). In: European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, Vol. 271, No. 7: pp. 1231-1243

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Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) is currently evolving as an effective and safe therapeutic tool in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, already established rTMS treatment paradigms are rather time-consuming. With theta burst stimulation (TBS), a patterned form of rTMS, treatment time can be substantially reduced. Pilot studies and a randomized controlled trial (RCT) demonstrate non-inferiority of TBS to 10 Hz rTMS and support a wider use in MDD. Still, data from placebo-controlled multicenter RCTs are lacking. In this placebo-controlled multicenter study, 236 patients with MDD will be randomized to either intermittent TBS (iTBS) to the left and continuous TBS (cTBS) to the right dlPFC or bilateral sham stimulation (1:1 ratio). The treatment will be performed with 80% resting motor threshold intensity over six consecutive weeks (30 sessions). The primary outcome is the treatment response rate (Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale reduction >= 50%). The aim of the study is to confirm the superiority of active bilateral TBS compared to placebo treatment. In two satellite studies, we intend to identify possible MRI-based and (epi-)genetic predictors of responsiveness to TBS therapy. Positive results will support the clinical use of bilateral TBS as an advantageous, efficient, and well-tolerated treatment and pave the way for further individualization of MDD therapy. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04392947).

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