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Greater depressive symptoms, cognition, and markers of brain aging



We examined whether greater depressive symptoms were associated with domain-specific cognitive performance, change in cognition, and MRI markers of brain atrophy and subclinical cerebrovascular disease in a diverse sample of older adults from the Northern Manhattan Study.


Data were analyzed from the Northern Manhattan Study, a prospective cohort study of mostly Caribbean Hispanic, stroke-free, older adults. A total of 1,111 participants had baseline measures of depressive symptoms, measured as the Center of Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, MRI markers, and cognitive function. A Center of Epidemiological Studies-Depression score ≥16 was considered indicative of greater depressive symptoms. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were used to examine the associations of interest.


At baseline, 22% of participants had greater depressive symptoms. Greater depressive symptoms were significantly associated with worse baseline episodic memory in models adjusted for sociodemographic, vascular risk factor, behavioral, and antidepressive medication variables (β [95% confidence interval] = -0.21 [-0.33 to -0.10], p = 0.0003). Greater depressive symptoms were also associated with smaller cerebral parenchymal fraction (β [95% confidence interval] = -0.56 [-1.05 to -0.07], p = 0.02) and increased odds of subclinical brain infarcts (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.55 [1.00-2.42], p = 0.05), after adjustment for sociodemographic, behavioral, and vascular risk factor variables. Greater depressive symptoms were not significantly associated with white matter hyperintensity volume, hippocampal volume, or change in cognition over an average of 5 years. Results were unchanged when stabilized inverse probability weights were applied to address selective attrition during the study period.


In this sample of mostly Caribbean Hispanic, stroke-free, older adults, greater depressive symptoms were associated with worse episodic memory, smaller cerebral volume, and silent infarcts.

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