Microbleeds are associated with depressive symptoms in Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2017 Dec 6;10:112-120. doi: 10.1016/j.dadm.2017.11.006. eCollection 2018.


Introduction: Co-occurrence of cerebrovascular disease and depression led to the "vascular depression hypothesis". White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) have been associated with depressive symptoms in population-based studies. We studied the association between small vessel disease and depressive symptoms in a memory clinic population.

Methods: We included >2000 patients with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Magnetic resonance imaging was rated for WMHs, lacunes, and microbleeds. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale. We performed logistic regression analysis.

Results: Depressive symptoms were present in AD: 17%; mild cognitive impairment: 25%; and SCD: 23%. SCD patients with WMHs showed higher propensity of depressive symptoms than AD patients with WMHs. AD patients with microbleeds were more likely to have depressive symptoms compared with AD patients without microbleeds (odds ratio = 1.70; 95% confidence interval: 1.08-2.68).

Discussion: Microbleeds are associated with depressive symptoms in AD, supporting a potential role of cerebral amyloid angiopathy in the occurrence of depressive symptoms in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Depressive symptoms; Lacunes; Microbleeds; Small vessel disease; White matter hyperintensities.