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Depression is common in old age and is associated with risk of dementia,
but its neuropathological correlates in the community are unknown.
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
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
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).
Late-life depression was associated with subcortical and hippocampal
neuronal loss but not with cerebrovascular or Alzheimer pathology.
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