Chronic depressive symptomatology in mild cognitive impairment is associated with frontal atrophy rate which hastens conversion to Alzheimer dementia

Simona Sacuiu, Philip S. Insel, Susanne Mueller, Duygu Tosun, Niklas Mattsson, Clifford R. Jack, Charles DeCarli, Ronald Petersen, Paul S. Aisen, Michael W. Weiner, R. Scott MacKin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective Investigate the association of chronic depressive symptomatology (chrDS) with cortical atrophy rates and conversion to Alzheimer dementia (AD) over 3 years in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Methods In a multicenter, clinic-based study, MCI elderly participants were selected from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative repository, based on availability of both serial structural magnetic resonance imaging and chrDS endorsed on three depression-related items from the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (chrDS N = 32 or no depressive symptoms N = 62) throughout follow-up. Clinical and laboratory investigations were performed every 6 months during the first 2 years and yearly thereafter (median follow-up: 3 years; interquartile range: 1.5-4.0 years). Cortical atrophy rates in 16 predefined frontotemporoparietal regions affected in major depression and AD and the rate of incident AD at follow-up. Results ChrDS in a single domain amnestic MCI sample were associated with accelerated cortical atrophy in the frontal lobe and anterior cingulate but not with atrophy rates in temporomedial or other AD-affected regions. During follow-up, 38 participants (42.7%) developed AD. Participants with chrDS had 60% shorter conversion time to AD than those without depressive symptoms. This association remained significant in survival models adjusted for temporomedial atrophy rates and showed the same trend in models adjusted for frontal cortical atrophy rate, which all increased the risk of AD. Conclusion Our results suggest that chrDS associated with progressive atrophy of frontal regions may represent an additional risk factor for conversion to dementia in MCI as opposite to representing typical prodromal AD symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-135
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Alzheimer dementia
  • Depressive symptoms
  • MRI
  • cohort study
  • mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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