A depressive endophenotype of poorer cognition among cognitively healthy community-dwelling adults: results from the Western Australia memory study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;30(8):881-6. doi: 10.1002/gps.4231. Epub 2014 Nov 13.


Objective: The objective was to evaluate in a cognitively normal population the utility of an endophenotype of the depression-cognition link previously shown to be related to cognitive functioning in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

Methods: The data of 460 cognitively normal adults aged 32-92 years (M = 63.5, standard deviation = 9.24) from the Western Australian Memory Study with the Cross-national comparisons of the Cambridge Cognitive Examination-revised (CAMCOG-R) scores and 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) scores were analyzed to determine the relationship between the five-item depressive endophenotype (DepE) scale drawn from the GDS and level of performance on a measure of cognitive functioning.

Results: For the entire sample, there was a nonsignificant trend toward a negative relationship between DepE and CAMCOG-R scores. When analyzed for those 65 years and older, there was a significant negative relationship between the two measures (p = 0.001) with DepE scores significantly increasing the risk for performing more poorly on the CAMCOG-R (odds ratio = 1.53). Analysis of data for those 70 years and older showed that DepE was the only predictor significantly related to poorer CAMCOG-R performance (p = 0.001). For the 70 years and older group, DepE scores significantly increased the risk of poorer CAMCOG-R scores (odds ratio = 2.23). Analysis of the entire sample on the basis of ApoEε4 carrier status revealed that DepE scores were significantly negatively related only to ApoEε4 noncarrier regardless of age.

Conclusions: Elevated DepE scores are associated with poor neuropsychological performance among cognitively normal older adults. Use of the DepE may allow for the identification of a subset of older adults where depression is a primary factor in cognitive decline and who may benefit from antidepressant therapies.

Keywords: cognition; depression; elders; endophenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Endophenotypes*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Western Australia


  • Apolipoproteins E