People with memory problems who are depressed are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who aren't depressed, according to a new UCLA study.
Researchers also found, however, that the popular Alzheimer's drug donepezil may help delay the progression to Alzheimer's in depressed individuals who suffer from mild cognitive impairment or memory problems.
Mild cognitive impairment is the transition period between the cognitive decline of normal aging and Alzheimer's disease. People with mild cognitive impairment experience memory problems that are greater than expected from normal aging but do not show other symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as difficulties completing everyday activities.
The study appears in the June 16 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The three-year study followed 756 people between the ages of 55 and 91 who had mild cognitive impairment. Of those, 208 were diagnosed with depression using a test that measures the severity and intensity of depressive symptoms. For every one-point increase on the test, a participant's risk of developing Alzheimer's went up by 3 percent.
"Our longer-term findings add to the body of evidence that suggests depression is a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease," said Po H. Lu, an assistant professor of neurology and a member of the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research. "Since the drug donepezil has been shown to improve the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, our study also tested whether the drug would delay the progression to Alzheimer's disease in people with memory problems."
Study participants were given either vitamin E, donepezil or a placebo pill. Researchers found that among depressed people with mild cognitive impairment, 11 percent of those taking donepezil developed Alzheimer's disease at 1.7 years, compared with 25 percent of those who took vi
|Contact: Mark Wheeler|
University of California - Los Angeles