Alzheimer’s disease researchers are investigating whether depression in the latest stages of life may be related to beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The research, presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s annual meeting, is investigating the possibility that depression may be a major risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s faster than others.
Alzheimer’s disease begins developing years before noticeable cognitive decline and memory loss. Depression has been proven to have its own neurodegenerative effects on the brain, but here researchers have found a connection between beta-amyloid in depressed elderly patients with cognitive deficits and advancement to Alzheimer’s disease. They were able to prove this using molecular imaging data from a global dementia imaging database.
“Our results clearly indicate that mild cognitively impaired subjects with depressive symptoms suffer from elevated amyloid levels when compared with nondepressed individuals,” said the study’s principal scientist, Axel Rominger, MD, of the department of nuclear medicine at the University of Munich in Germany. “The combination of elevated amyloid levels and coexisting depressive symptoms constitute a patient population with a high risk for faster progression to Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study involved 371 patients with mild cognitive impairment who underwent PET imaging with the radiotracer F-18 florbetapir and MRI chosen retrospectively from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database, which includes data from at least 55 research centers across the United States and Canada now readily available to more than 2,500 researchers worldwide. Results showed that patients with mild cognitive impairment and depressive symptoms had higher amyloid deposition than nondepressed controls, as indicated by the binding of the radiotracer to amyloid, particularly in the frontal cortex and the anterior and posterior cingulate gyrus of the brain. Both are involved in mood disorders such as depression.
“Therapeutic options for Alzheimer’s disease are still limited, and therefore the identification and understanding of contributing risk factors that influence the disease are crucial in ongoing research as they offer the possibilities for future medical intervention,” said coauthor and fellow researcher Matthias Brendel. Additionally, knowing the risk could help patients make necessary lifestyle changes and prepare their families.
Source: Radiology Today