Objective: Depressive disorders have been associated with increased risk for aging-related diseases, possibly as a consequence of accelerated cellular aging. Cellular aging, indexed by telomere length (TL) shortening, has been linked to depression in adults younger than 60 years; however, it remains unclear whether this is the case in late-life depression (age >60 years). The objective of this study was to assess differences in TL between persons with current late-life depression and never-depressed comparisons and to examine the association between characteristics of late-life depression and TL.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study using the Netherlands Study of Depression in Older Persons, 355 persons with current late-life depression and 128 never-depressed comparisons, aged 60-93 years (mean age [SD]: 70.5 [7.4] years, 65% women), were recruited through primary care and mental healthcare. Late-life depression was established using a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-based structured psychiatric interview. Leukocyte TL, expressed in base pairs (bp), was determined in fasting blood samples by performing quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Mean TL did not differ between depressed persons (bp [SD]: 5,035 ) and never-depressed (bp [SD]: 5,057 ) comparisons. Further, TL was not associated with severity, duration, and age at onset of depression; comorbid anxiety disorders; anxiety symptoms; apathy severity; antidepressant use; benzodiazepine use; cognitive functioning; and childhood trauma.
Conclusion: Late-life depression was not associated with increased cellular aging. This absent association, which contradicts observations in younger adults, may be due to the potential larger heterogenic nature of late-life depression and lifetime cumulative exposure to other TL-damaging factors, possibly overruling effects of late-life depression.
Keywords: Late-life depression; cellular aging; telomere length; telomere shortening.
Copyright © 2015 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.