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Neuropathological correlates of late-life depression in older people

  • Christos Tsopelas (a1), Robert Stewart (a2), George M. Savva (a3), Carol Brayne (a3), Paul Ince (a4), Alan Thomas (a5) and Fiona E. Matthews (a6)...

Abstract

Background

Depression is common in old age and is associated with risk of dementia, but its neuropathological correlates in the community are unknown.

Aims

To investigate for the first time in a population-representative sample of people with no dementia the association between depression observed during life and neurofibrillary tangles, diffuse and neuritic plaques, Lewy bodies, brain atrophy and cerebrovascular disease found in the brain at post-mortem.

Method

Out of 456 donations to a population-based study, 153 brains were selected where donors had no dementia measured in life. Alzheimer and vascular pathology measures, Lewy bodies and neuronal loss were compared between those with (n = 36) and without (n = 117) depression ascertained using a fully structured diagnostic interview during life. Brain areas examined included frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital cortical areas as well as the entorhinal cortex, hippocampus and brain-stem monoaminergic nuclei.

Results

Depression was significantly associated with the presence of subcortical Lewy bodies. No association was found between depression and cerebrovascular or Alzheimer pathology in cortical or subcortical areas, although depression was associated with neuronal loss in the hippocampus as well as in some of the subcortical structures investigated (nucleus basalis, substantia nigra, raphe nucleus).

Conclusions

Late-life depression was associated with subcortical and hippocampal neuronal loss but not with cerebrovascular or Alzheimer pathology.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Robert Stewart, Section of Epidemiology (Box 60), Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. Email: r.stewart@iop.kcl.ac.uk

Footnotes

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The Cognitive Function and Ageing Study is funded by the Medical Research Council UK. R.S. is funded by the NIHR Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Neuropathological correlates of late-life depression in older people

  • Christos Tsopelas (a1), Robert Stewart (a2), George M. Savva (a3), Carol Brayne (a3), Paul Ince (a4), Alan Thomas (a5) and Fiona E. Matthews (a6)...

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Neuropathological correlates of late-life depression in older people

  • Christos Tsopelas (a1), Robert Stewart (a2), George M. Savva (a3), Carol Brayne (a3), Paul Ince (a4), Alan Thomas (a5) and Fiona E. Matthews (a6)...
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