Cerebral blood flow velocity positively correlates with brain volumes in long-term remitted depression

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Abstract

Background:

Mechanisms involved in brain changes observed in major depression have been poorly investigated in clinical populations. Changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) have been found in depressed patients and constitute a potential mechanism by which brain volume varies in depression. We have tested the association of cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) as assessed with Transcranial Doppler (TCD) and cerebral blood flow (CBF) as assessed with Arterial Spin Labeling Magnetic Resonance Imaging (ASL-MRI) with Total Brain Volume (TBV) and the volume of seven subcortical regions, in currently depressed and long-term remitted patients. In addition, we have evaluated other potential confounders for the association depression/brain volume, including dimensional symptoms of depression, cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) and antidepressants.

Methods:

Seventy-five individuals were recruited, divided in 3 equal groups (currently depressed, remitted individuals and healthy controls) and were submitted to clinical assessment, MRI and Transcranial Doppler.

Results:

CBFV was positively correlated with TBV, Hippocampus and Thalamus volume, but only in remitted patients, who tend to have larger brains compared to both currently depressed and controls. CVRF were negatively associated with brain volumes in the 3 groups and antidepressant use was associated with larger Thalamus. We found no association between brain volumes and CBF as assessed with ASL-MRI, anhedonia, anxiety or psychomotor retardation.

Discussion:

Greater CBFV may be a physiological mechanism by which brain is enlarged in remitted patients. Future studies should consider CBFV, CVRF and antidepressants as possible confounders for the association depression/brain volumes, especially in remitted patients.

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