J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  1998 Nov;2(2):160-166.

Signal Hyperintensities on Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Late-life Depressive Patients

  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


This study was performed to investigate the relationship between age of onset in late-life depression and T2 hyperintensities observed in the brain MRI, we tried to see part of pathophysiology of late-life depression. METHOD: The subjects consisted of 18 patients whose first depressive episode occurred before age 50, and 20 patients whose first depressive episode occurred after age 50 years, and 20 agematched controls. Depressive patients were diagnosed according to DSM-IV. Established hyperintensity rating systems were used to analyse the T2 weighted images and blood pressure, cholesterol level, DM, EKG were measured to compare the relationships.
1) Signal hyperintensities on T2 weighted image were more severe in late-life depressive patients whose first depressive episode after age 50 (p<0.05) and there is no significant difference between patients whose first episode before age 50 and age-matched control subjects. 2) Mild signal hyperintensities were observed in all elderly depressed patients and control subjects, but severe hyperintensities were observed in late-onset depression. 3) Signal hyperintensities were related to age, hypertension, blood cholesterol level (p<0.05).
The late onset depressive patients had more white matter hyperintensities on T2 weighted image than early onset depressive patients. this results support previous hypothesis that white matter change is the important biological factor of late-onset elderly depression and old age, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia may be associated with signal hyperintensities.


Depression; Age of onset; Magnetic resonance imaging
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