Late-Life Depression: Modifications of Brain Resting State Activity

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Late-life depression (LLD) is a common emotional and mental disability in the elderly population characterized by the presence of depressed mood, the loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, and other depression symptoms. It has a serious effect on the quality of life of elderly individuals and increases their risk of developing physical and mental diseases. It is an important area of research, given the growing elderly population. Brain functional connectivity modifications represent one of the neurobiological biomarker for LLD even if to date remains poorly understood. In our study, we enrolled 10 elderly patients with depressive symptoms compared to 11 age-matched healthy controls. All participants were evaluated by means of neuropsychological tests and underwent the same functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) protocol to evaluate modifications of brain resting state functional connectivity. Between-group differences were observed for the Geriatric Depression Scale and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, with higher scores for patients with LLD. Voxel-wise, 1-way analysis of variance revealed between-group differences in left frontoparietal network (lFPN) and sensory motor network (SMN): Increased intrinsic connectivity in the LLD group was observed in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and in the left superior parietal lobule of the lFPN and increased intrinsic connectivity in the LLD group was observed in the bilateral primary somatosensory cortex of the SMN. Our findings support the use of resting state fMRI as a potential biomarker for LLD; even if to confirm the relationship between brain changes and the pathophysiology of LLD, longitudinal neuroimaging studies are required.

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