Clinical presentation and outcome of geriatric depression in subcortical ischemic vascular disease

R. Bella, G. Pennisi, M. Cantone, F. Palermo, M. Pennisi, G. Lanza, M. Zappia, S. Paolucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Vascular damage of frontal-subcortical circuits involved in mood regulation and cognition might be the main contributor to the pathogenesis of late-life depression, and it is linked to poor response to treatment. Objective: To investigate the relationship between executive dysfunction and outcome of depressive symptoms among elderly patients with subcortical ischemic vascular disease. Methods: Ninety-two elderly patients with white matter lesions (WMLs) or lacunar infarcts (LAs) on brain MRI and depressive symptomatology were consecutively recruited. Depression was rated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). Evaluation of executive functions by means of the Stroop color-word test was performed at entry of the study, and WMLs were categorized into mild, moderate or severe. Mood was reevaluated by means of HDRS after the 12th week of pharmacological treatment. Results: Psychomotor retardation, difficulties at work, apathy, and lack of insight were the predominant symptoms. Fifty-six patients (62.8%) had a neuroradiological picture of WMLs, while the remaining 33 (37.1%) had LAs. Executive dysfunctions significantly and independently predict poor outcome of depressive symptoms. Patients with the severest WMLs showed not only a greater executive dysfunction, but also a minor response to antidepressant treatment. Conclusion: This study supports the vascular depression hypothesis. WMLs are of crucial clinical relevance as they are linked with cognitive symptoms and poor antidepressant outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-302
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Depression
  • Executive dysfunction
  • White matter lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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