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Depression in small-vessel disease relates to white matter ultrastructural damage, not disability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rebecca L. Brookes, Vanessa Herbert, Andrew J. Lawrence, Robin G. Morris, Hugh S. Markus

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1417-1423
Number of pages7
Issue number16
Early online date17 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether cerebral small-vessel disease (SVD) is a specific risk factor for depression, whether any association is mediated via white matter damage, and to study the role of depressive symptoms and disability on quality of life (QoL) in this patient group. METHODS: Using path analyses in cross-sectional data, we modeled the relationships among depression, disability, and QoL in patients with SVD presenting with radiologically confirmed lacunar stroke (n = 100), and replicated results in a second SVD cohort (n = 100). We then compared the same model in a non-SVD stroke cohort (n = 50) and healthy older adults (n = 203). In a further study, to determine the role of white matter damage in mediating the association with depression, a subgroup of patients with SVD (n = 101) underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). RESULTS: Reduced QoL was associated with depression in patients with SVD, but this association was not mediated by disability or cognition; very similar results were found in the replication SVD cohort. In contrast, the non-SVD stroke group and the healthy older adult group showed a direct relationship between disability and depression. The DTI study showed that fractional anisotropy, a marker of white matter damage, was related to depressive symptoms in patients with SVD. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that in stroke patients without SVD, disability is an important causal factor for depression, whereas in SVD stroke, other factors specific to this stroke subtype have a causal role. White matter damage detected on DTI is one factor that mediates the association between SVD and depression.

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