Indexed on: 12 Jul '07Published on: 12 Jul '07Published in: The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Several studies suggest that depression is a risk factor for development of dementia in the elderly. In a study of older depressed individuals, the authors examined both neuroimaging and genetic factors in development of dementia. The authors hypothesized that change in subcortical gray matter and white matter hyperintensity volumes would be associated with development of dementia, as would presence of an apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon 4 allele.The sample consisted of 161 older depressed subjects without dementia who had magnetic resonance imaging scans at baseline and at two years. Blood samples were also taken to determine APOE genotype. All participants were treated with antidepressants using a guideline-based treatment algorithm. Their cognitive status was evaluated annually. A consensus panel of experts evaluated each case to determine cognitive status and assign a diagnosis.Twenty subjects became demented over the follow-up period (5.4 years on average). Change in white matter hyperintensity volume was significantly associated with development of dementia, especially among non-Alzheimer dementias. There was a trend for change in subcortical gray matter hyperintensity volume to be associated with incident dementia. APOE genotype was not associated with onset of dementia.Worsening cerebrovascular disease in older depressed adults is associated with cognitive decline and dementia, particularly of the non-Alzheimer disease type. The association of change in white matter lesion volume and incident dementia among depressed elders extends the vascular depression hypothesis of geriatric depression to include cognitive outcomes of depression in the elderly.