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Depression is associated with increased risk of several general medical conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The nature of the association is complex and may involve bidirectional causation or a common pathophysiology.
To determine whether young people without depression but at increased familial risk have altered metabolic and blood pressure markers relative to matched controls.
We studied young people (n = 85), who had a parent with depression but no personal history of depressive illness (FH+) and healthy controls (n = 69). Cardiovascular risk profile was assessed by a fasting blood sample to measure insulin, glucose, lipids and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and blood pressure was measured centrally and peripherally. Arterial stiffness and waking cortisol concentration were also measured.
Compared with controls, the FH+ group demonstrated increased peripheral and central systolic blood pressure, increased arterial stiffness and diminished insulin sensitivity but they did not differ from controls in measures of lipids, CRP or waking cortisol.
Our data suggest that young people at increased familial risk of depression show evidence of altered cardiovascular risk profile in young adulthood even in the absence of depressive symptoms. It is possible therefore that vulnerability to conditions such as hypertension and diabetes may precede the onset of major depression and may share common risk factors.
We previously found that children of parents with depression showed
impaired performance on a task of emotional categorisation.
To test the hypothesis that children of parents with depression would
show abnormal neural responses in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain
region involved in the integration of emotional and cognitive
Eighteen young people (mean age 19.8 years) with no personal history of
depression but with a biological parent with a history of major
depression (FH+ participants) and 16 controls (mean age 19.9
years) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while completing
an emotional counting Stroop task.
Controls showed significant activation in the pregenual anterior
cingulate cortex to both positive and negative words during the emotional
Stroop task. This activation was absent in FH+
Our findings show that people at increased familial risk of depression
demonstrate impaired modulation of the anterior cingulate cortex in
response to emotionally valenced stimuli.
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