Background and purpose. Depressive symptoms are frequently associated with heart failure (HF), but the brain mechanisms underlying such association are unclear. We hypothesized that the presence of major depressive disorder (MDD) emerging after the onset of HF would be associated with regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) abnormalities in medial temporal regions previously implicated in primary MDD, namely the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus.
Method. Using 99mTc-SPECT, we measured rCBF in 17 elderly MDD-HF patients, 17 non-depressed HF patients, and 18 healthy controls, matched for demographic variables. Group differences were investigated with Statistical Parametric Mapping.
Results. Significant rCBF reductions in MDD-HF patients relative to both non-depressed HF patients and healthy controls were detected in the left anterior parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus (ANOVA, p=0·008 corrected for multiple comparisons) and the right posterior hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus (p=0·005 corrected). In the overall HF group, there was a negative correlation between the severity of depressive symptoms and rCBF in the right posterior hippocampal/parahippocampal region (p=0·045 corrected).
Conclusions. These findings are consistent with the notion that the medial temporal region is vulnerable to brain perfusion deficits associated with HF, and provide evidence that such functional deficits may be specifically implicated in the pathophysiology of MDD associated with HF.