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Longitudinal studies of cerebral glucose metabolism in late-life depression and normal aging


Correspondence to: G. S. Smith, Ph.D., E-mail:



Late-life depression (LLD) has a substantial public health impact and is both a risk factor for and a prodrome of dementia. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies of cerebral glucose metabolism have demonstrated sensitivity in evaluating neural circuitry involved in depression, aging, incipient cognitive decline, and dementia. The present study evaluated the long term effects of a course of antidepressant treatment on glucose metabolism in LLD patients.


Nine LLD patients and seven non-depressed control subjects underwent clinical and cognitive evaluations as well as brain magnetic resonance imaging and PET studies of cerebral glucose metabolism at baseline, after 8 weeks of treatment with citalopram for a major depressive episode (patients only), and at an approximately 2-year follow-up.


The majority of LLD patients were remitted at follow-up (7/9). Neither patients nor controls showed significant cognitive decline. The patients showed greater increases in glucose metabolism than the controls in regions associated with mood symptoms (anterior cingulate and insula). Both groups showed decreases in metabolism in posterior association cortices implicated in dementia.


Longitudinal changes in cerebral glucose metabolism are observed in controls and in LLD patients without significant cognitive decline that are more extensive than the decreases in brain volume. Longer duration follow-up studies and the integration of other molecular imaging methods will have implications for understanding the clinical and neurobiological significance of these metabolic changes. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.