Third-Party Funded Projects on Affective Disorders

BMBF: Depression Associated Cardiac Failure (DaCFail)

Psychiatry: A. Menke, J. Deckert
CHFC departments: B. Gerull, S. Störk
Cardiology: A. Frey
Clinical Epidemiology: P. Heuschmann
Neurology: P. Kraft, G. Stoll
Neuroradiology: G. Homola, M. Pham
Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, German Aerospace Center
Project duration: 2015-2018


DACFAIL analyses the role of sympathomimetic function as a mechanism to develop heart failure in patients with depression. As measure of sympathotonus, heart rate variability and MIBG SPECT imaging of cardiac noradrenaline transporters are used. CNS components linked with the sympathotonus comprise the insula and brainstem nuclei such as the locus coeruleus. The insula region is involved in psychological processes such as interoception which have repeatedly been shown to be involved in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are discussed as precursors of depressive disorders and anxious depression has been generally shown to have a more severe illness course.


We want to study insula morphology and function in patients with depression with and without heart failure.


60 patients with depression with and without heart failure (30 of each group) will undergo a morphometric analysis focusing on regions of the anxiety network in particular the insula as well as an interoception design at baseline and after 6 months. These structural endpoints will also comprise objective imaging measures of regional cortical thickness and white matter integrity of the insula and the adjacent external capsule. At the follow-upall DACFAIL parameters including biomarkers will again be evaluated (with exception of MBIG SPECT) with a particular focus on anxiety parameters and will be correlated with insula morphology and function. DNA and RNA is already collected to allow for genetic analyses.