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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • depressive symptoms;
  • white matter;
  • MRI

Abstract

Objective

The aim of the present study was to investigate if depressive symptoms in demented patients are associated with white matter changes (WMCs) in the brain.

Background

WMCs are frequently found in patients with dementia, as well as among elderly nondemented patients with depressive symptoms. However, it is less established whether or not WMCs are related to depressive symptoms in demented patients.

Methods

67 (26 men, 41 women) patients with primary degenerative dementia (Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia), vascular dementia (VaD), or mixed Alzheimer/VaD dementia were included in the study. The patients were young-old (mean 68.1, SD 7.3). All patients underwent a standardized examination procedure and MRI of the brain. The degree of WMCs was visually rated, blindly. Depressive symptoms were rated according to the Gottfries-Bråne-Steen scale (anxiety, fear-panic, depressed mood).

Results

No significant relationship was found between WMCs and depressive symptoms in the demented patients.

Conclusion

The possible involvement of WMCs in the pathogenesis of depressive symptoms in dementia is unclear. A link between disruptions of frontal-subcortical pathways, due to WMCs, and depressive symptomatology in dementia has been hypothesised from earlier findings, which would imply common elements of pathogenesis for depressive symptomatology and cognitive impairment in dementia. However, the results of the present study do not add further support to this hypothesis. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.