Imaging Alzheimer pathology in late-life depression with PET and Pittsburgh Compound-B

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2008 Jul-Sep;22(3):261-8. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e31816c92bf.


There is increasing evidence for an empiric link between late-life depression and Alzheimer disease (AD). The neuropathology of AD, previously only confirmed at autopsy, may now be detectable in vivo using selective imaging ligands for beta-amyloid. Positron emission tomography (PET) with [11C] 6-OH-BTA-1 [Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB)] has shown high tracer retention in cortical areas in patients with clinical diagnoses of probable AD and low retention in age-matched controls. We also previously reported variable PiB retention in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this study, we used PiB-PET to evaluate whether amyloid is present in elders with treated major depression, many of whom have persistent cognitive impairment. We evaluated 9 subjects with remitted major depression [3M: 6F, mean (SD) age=71.8(5.7) y]. Seven of the 9 depressed subjects also met criteria for the diagnosis of MCI. PiB-PET data from healthy elders [n=8; mean (SD) age=71.5(3.0) y] were used for comparison. PET was acquired with arterial sampling and PiB retention was quantified using magnetic resonance imaging-guided cortical regions and graphical analysis of time-activity data; arterial line failure led to exclusion of 1 depressed subject. The data demonstrated variably elevated PiB retention. PiB retention in the 2 depressed subjects with normal cognitive ability was in the range of nondepressed cognitively normal subjects. PiB retention in 3 of the 6 depressed subjects with MCI fell in the range of subjects with AD. PiB retention in the remaining 3 depressed subjects with cooccurring MCI was variable and generally was intermediate to the other subjects. Our findings are consistent with and supportive of the hypothesis that depression may herald the development of AD in some individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aniline Compounds*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depression / diagnostic imaging
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Thiazoles*


  • 2-(4'-(methylamino)phenyl)-6-hydroxybenzothiazole
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Thiazoles

Grant support