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Imaging technique IDs plaques, tangles in brains of severely depressed older adults
Date:11/8/2011

roscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "The findings suggest that the higher protein load in critical brain regions may contribute to the development of severe depression in late life."

Researchers also found that similar protein deposit patterns in the lateral temporal and posterior cingulate areas in patients were associated with different clinical symptoms. Some patients demonstrated indicators of depression only, while others displayed symptoms of mild cognitive impairment as well.

Dr. Small noted that previous research has shown that depression may be a risk factor for or a precursor to memory loss, such as mild cognitive impairment, which can later lead to dementia.

"We may find that depression in the elderly may be an initial manifestation of progressive neurodegenerative disease," said the study's first author, Dr. Anand Kumar, the Lizzie Gilman Professor and department head of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Brain scans using FDDNP allow us to take a closer look at the different types of protein deposits and track them to see how clinical symptoms develop."

According to Kumar and Small, more follow-up over time is needed to evaluate the significance of the outcomes of the study's patient subgroups. Such research will help further assess if depression later in life might be a precursor to mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

In addition, the researchers said, FDDNP used with PET may also be helpful in identifying new treatments and in tracking the effectiveness of current antidepressant therapy and medications designed to help reduce abnormal protein build-up in the brain.

The team is planning larger studies involving investigators at UCLA and the University of Illinois that will address the impact of the genetic marker APOE-4, which is a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.


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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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Imaging technique IDs plaques, tangles in brains of severely depressed older adults
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