Decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) may be an important mechanism associated with depression. In this study we aimed to determine if the association of CBF and depression is dependent on current level of depression or the tendency to experience depression over time (trait depression), and if CBF is influenced by depression-related factors such as stressful life experiences and antidepressant medication use. CBF was measured in 254 participants from the Amish Connectome Project (age 18-76, 99 men and 154 women) using arterial spin labeling. All participants underwent assessment of symptoms of depression measured with the Beck Depression Inventory and Maryland Trait and State Depression scales. Individuals diagnosed with a unipolar depressive disorder had significantly lower average gray matter CBF compared to individuals with no history of depression or to individuals with a history of depression that was in remission at time of study. Trait depression was significantly associated with lower CBF, with the associations strongest in cingulate gyrus and frontal white matter. Use of antidepressant medication and more stressful life experiences were also associated with significantly lower CBF. Resting CBF in specific brain regions is associated with trait depression, experience of stressful life events, and current antidepressant use, and may provide a valuable biomarker for further studies.
Keywords: Antidepressants; arterial spin labeling; cingulate gyrus; major depressive disorder; stressful life events.