Background: Evidence suggests that depression may be a risk factor for dementia in older adults, but the link between depressive symptoms and brain health earlier in life is less understood. Our aim was to investigate the association between long-term depressive symptoms in young to mid-adulthood and a measure of brain age derived from structural MRI. Methods: From the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, we identified 649 participants (age 23–36 at baseline) with brain MRI and cognitive testing. Long-term depressive symptoms were measured with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES–D) six times across 25 years and analyzed as time-weighted averages (TWA). Brain age was derived using previously validated high dimensional neuroimaging pattern analysis, quantifying individual differences in age-related atrophy. Elevated depressive symptoms were defined as CES-D ≥16. Linear regression was used to test the association between TWA depressive symptoms, brain aging, and cognition. Results: Each standard deviation (5-points) increment in TWA depression symptoms over 25 years was associated with one-year greater brain age (β: 1.14, 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 0.57 to 1.71). Participants with elevated TWA depressive symptoms had on average a 3-year greater brain age (β: 2.75, 95 % CI: 0.43 to 5.08). Moreover, elevated depressive symptoms were associated with higher odds of poor cognitive function in midlife (OR: 3.30, 95 % CI: 1.37 to 7.97). Limitations: Brain age was assessed at one time, limiting our ability to evaluate the temporality of depressive symptoms and brain aging. Conclusions: Elevated depressive symptoms in early adulthood may have implications for brain health as early as in midlife.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) is supported by contracts HHSN268201800003I , HHSN268201800004I , HHSN268201800005I , HHSN268201800006I , and HHSN268201800007I from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and National Institute on Aging (NIA) R01 AG063887.
CARDIA was also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIA and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI ( AG0005 ). This work was also supported by NIA R35AG071916 (Yaffe) and an Alzheimer's Association grant AARF-21-851960 (Dintica).
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.
- Brain age
- Cohort study
- Longitudinal study
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article