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Cerebral blood flow and metabolism in late-life depression and dementia.

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By Nobler MS, Pelton GH, Sackeim HA. • www.ProHealth.com • September 1, 1999


Summary:

The brain abnormalities found in those with late-life depression are also found in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. This study suggests that those with dementia must not be diagnosed using functional imaging [x-ray] alone. These patients must be given careful clinical assessment and resort to functional imaging only to improve early diagnosis or to assist in difficult cases.

Research details:

Late-life depression (LLD) is characterized by abnormalities in cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral metabolic rate (CMR) for glucose. Unlike younger adults with major depression, global cortical CBF and CMR reductions have been reported in LLD. Patients with LLD are also characterized by topographic abnormalities, most commonly involving selective prefrontal, superior temporal, and anterior parietal cortex. The fate of these abnormalities with response to antidepressant treatment is highly uncertain, and heterogeneous findings have been reported in younger samples with major depression. The limited data in LLD suggest that response to electroconvulsive therapy or antidepressant medications does not involve reversal of baseline abnormalities but rather accentuation of prefrontal deficits. At minimum, these paradoxical findings suggest that abnormalities in CBF and CMR may be persistent in LLD and a trait characteristic.

Characteristic profiles of CBF and CMR abnormalities have also been demonstrated in samples with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other types of dementia. Functional imaging has shown sensitivity to disease severity and progression. Nonetheless, there is limited information regarding the sensitivity and specificity of the functional imaging modalities in the differential diagnosis of dementias. At present, the evidence does not support the use of functional imaging in isolation as a diagnostic tool. Rather, these imaging modalities may be considered as an adjunct to careful clinical assessment, either to improve diagnosis in early cases or to assist in subtyping difficult cases.

Source:
J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 1999 Fall;12(3):118-27.
Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032, USA.

PMID: 10593700, UI: 20059279



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