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Acta Neurol Scand. 2011 Dec;124(6):390-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2011.01512.x. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Major depression and bipolar disorders in CADASIL: a study using the DSM-IV semi-structured interview.

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Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences, University of Florence, Italy.



Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is an inherited cerebral microangiopathy characterized by migraine, cerebrovascular events, and cognitive impairment. Although recognized as a cardinal feature of the disease, psychiatric disturbances have rarely been the object of focused studies. We performed a structured evaluation of mood disorders in CADASIL.


Twenty-three patients with CADASIL (five men and 18 women) were assessed by psychiatrists using the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV, clinician version. For the quantitative assessment of current mood disorder symptoms, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) were used.


A lifetime depressive episode was recorded in 17/23 (73.9%) patients with CADASIL. Six (26.1%) patients with CADASIL reported a current depressive episode. A diagnosis of manic lifetime episode was made in 6 (26.1%) patients with CADASIL. The HRSD mean score in patients with current depression was 9.1 ± SD 8.1. The YMRS mean score was 14.2 ± SD 4.1 for manic CADASIL.


This study confirms that mood disorders are frequent in CADASIL. The use of a structured psychiatric interview outlines a frequency of depression higher than that previously reported but also reveals a considerable frequency of bipolar disorders. If confirmed in larger series, these data suggest that a greater attention should be paid to the psychiatric aspects in CADASIL.

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