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Cellular Morphometry in Late-Life Depression: A Review of Postmortem Studies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ahmad Khundakar, Professor Alan ThomasORCiD


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The impact of major depression in late life is considerable and set to intensify with a worldwide shift in demographic profile toward an elderly population. Although the precise neurobiological mechanisms are not fully understood, a significant body of clinical, epidemiological, and imaging data have suggested divergent pathophysiological pathways underlie depression in late life, when compared with younger patients. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated significant increases in white matter hyperintensities in late-life depression in several key areas involved in affective circuitry. Postmortem cellular morphometry studies have played a vital role in the identification of discrete changes in the brain microstructure in depression. This review draws together such postmortem studies, which have utilized tissue from younger/mixed age and late-life depressed patients. These findings have suggested varying neuronal and glial cell pathology in depression between different age cohorts. This age-related disparity may suggest different pathophysiological basis for depression, with vascular factors playing a potentially greater role in late life.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Khundakar AA, Thomas AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Year: 2014

Volume: 22

Issue: 2

Pages: 122-132

Print publication date: 05/09/2013

ISSN (print): 1064-7481

ISSN (electronic): 1545-7214

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2013.06.003

PubMed id: 24012224


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0900652Medical Research Council
G0400074Medical Research Council
G1100540Medical Research Council
G0502157Medical Research Council
MR/L016451/1Medical Research Council