Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Jun;158(6):878-84.

Relationship of deep white matter hyperintensities and apolipoprotein E genotype to depressive symptoms in older adults without clinical depression.

Author information

  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Thomas Detre Hall, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



This study examined whether evidence of cerebrovascular disease in the form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal hyperintensities in white matter was associated with depressive symptoms in a high-functioning group of normal elderly volunteers.


Ninety-two community-dwelling elderly individuals participating in a study of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in normal aging whose apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype had been determined completed the Geriatric Depression Scale and received an MRI scan. Univariate analyses of variance were used to examine the relationship between depressive symptoms and the location of WMHs (in deep white matter versus in periventricular white matter) and to determine whether WMHs were more likely to be associated with symptoms of impaired motivation and concentration or with mood symptoms. The effect on depressive symptoms of the interaction between severity of cerebrovascular disease as evidenced by WMHs and APOE genotype was also examined.


Hyperintensities in the deep white matter, but not in the periventricular white matter, were associated with depressive symptoms, especially symptoms of impaired motivation, concentration, and decision making. The relationship between deep WMHs and depressive symptoms was especially strong in individuals carrying the APOE-4 allele.


The pattern of depressive symptoms associated with WMHs in this study was similar to the pattern described in the literature as characterizing "vascular" depression in older persons with major depression. The results suggest that cerebrovascular disease may also underlie the depressive symptoms often found in older individuals who are not clinically depressed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk