Late-life depressive symptoms and white matter structural integrity within older Black adults

Front Aging Neurosci. 2023 May 2:15:1138568. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2023.1138568. eCollection 2023.


Introduction: Older Black adults experience a high burden of depressive symptoms and cerebrovascular disease but the specific neurobiological substrates underlying the association between late-life depressive symptoms and brain integrity are understudied, particularly in within-group designs.

Methods: Using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and diffusion-tensor imaging, within-Black variation in the association between late-life depressive symptoms and white matter structural integrity was examined in 297 older Black participants without dementia that were enrolled across three epidemiological studies of aging and dementia. Linear regression models were used to test associations with DTI metrics (fractional anisotropy, trace of the diffusion tensor) as the outcomes and depressive symptoms as the predictor, while adjusting for age, sex, education, scanner, serotonin-reuptake inhibitor use, total volume of white-matter hyperintensities normalized by intracranial volume, and presence of white-matter hyperintensities at the voxel level.

Results: Higher level of self-reported late-life depressive symptoms was associated with greater diffusion-tensor trace (reduced white matter integrity) in connections between commissural pathways and contralateral prefrontal regions (superior and middle frontal/dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), association pathways connecting dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with insular, striatal and thalamic regions, and association pathways connecting the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes and the thalamus.

Discussion: This study demonstrated a discernable pattern of compromised white matter structural integrity underlying late-life depressive symptoms within older Black adults.

Keywords: African-American; Black; brain structure; diffusion-tensor imaging; late-life depressive symptoms.