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Relationship between progression of brain white matter changes and late-life depression: 3-year results from the LADIS study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael FirbankORCiD, Dr Andrew Teodorczuk, Dr Timo Erkinjuntti, Professor John O'Brien


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Background Brain white matter changes (WMC) and depressive symptoms are linked, but the directionality of this association remains unclear. Aims To investigate the relationship between baseline and incident depression and progression of white matter changes. Method In a longitudinal multicentre pan-European study (Leukoaraiosis and Disability in the elderly, LADIS), participants aged over 64 underwent baseline magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical assessments. Repeat scans were obtained at 3 years. Depressive outcomes were assessed in terms of depressive episodes and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Progression of WMC was measured using the modified Rotterdam Progression scale. Results Progression of WMC was significantly associated with incident depression during year 3 of the study (P = 0.002) and remained significant after controlling for transition to disability, baseline WMC and baseline history of depression. There was no significant association between progression of WMC and GDS score, and no significant relationship between progression of WMC and history of depression at baseline. Conclusions Our results support the vascular depression hypothesis and implicate WMC as causal in the pathogenesis of late-life depression.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Firbank MJ, Teodorczuk A, van der Flier WM, Gouw AA, Wallin A, Erkinjuntti T, Inzitari D, Wahlund LO, Pantoni L, Poggesi A, Pracucci G, Langhorne P, O'Brien JT, LADIS Grp

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2012

Volume: 201

Issue: 1

Pages: 40-45

Print publication date: 24/05/2012

ISSN (print): 0007-1250

ISSN (electronic): 1472-1465

Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists


DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.098897


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Funder referenceFunder name
Bayer Italy
UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ageing and Age Related Diseases award
QLRT-2000-00446European Union within the V European Framework Programme 'Quality of life and management of living resources'