Depressive Symptomatology, Racial Discrimination Experience, and Brain Tissue Volumes Observed on Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Craig S. Meyer, Pamela J. Schreiner, Kelvin Lim, Harsha Battapady, Lenore J. Launer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Not much is known about brain structural change in younger populations and minorities. The cross-sectional relationship between depressive symptomatology and racial discrimination with structural measures of brain tissue volume was investigated using magnetic resonance images of 710 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults CARDIA Study in 2010. Those reporting depressive symptoms and racial discrimination had lower total brain matter volume compared with those who reported neither (-8.8 mL, 95% confidence interval (CI):-16.4,-1.2), those who reported depressive symptoms only (-10.9 mL, 95% CI:-20.4,-1.4), and those who reported racial discrimination only (-8.6 mL, 95% CI:-16.5,-0.8). Results were similar for total normal white matter. There were 103% higher odds (odds ratio = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.32, 3.14) of being in the highest quartile of white matter hyperintensities in those with depressive symptoms only compared to those without. Although tests for interaction by race were not statistically significant, sensitivity analyses stratified by race revealed inverse associations with total brain matter and total white matter volumes only among black participants with combined depressive symptomatology and experience of racial discrimination, and positive associations only among white participants with depressive symptoms with presence of white matter hyperintensities, suggesting future studies may focus on race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-663
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author affiliations: Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California (Craig S. Meyer); Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minnesota (Pamela J. Schreiner); Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minnesota (Kelvin Lim); University of Pennsylvania Health System, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Harsha Battapady); and the Neuroepidemiology Section, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland (Lenore J. Launer). This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (HHSN268201300025C and HHSN268201300026C), Northwestern University (HHSN268201300027C), University of Minnesota (HHSN268201300028C), Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (HHSN268201300029C), and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (HHSN268200900041C). CARDIA is also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005). Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, June 18–21, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, and published in abstract form (Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(11 suppl):S178). Conflict of interest: none declared.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • brain physiology
  • depressive symptomatology
  • racial discrimination


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