Association of Midlife Depressive Symptoms with Regional Amyloid-β and Tau in the Framingham Heart Study

Mitzi M. Gonzales, Jasmeet Samra, Adrienne O'Donnell, R. Scott Mackin, Joel Salinas, Mini E. Jacob, Claudia L. Satizabal, Hugo J. Aparicio, Emma G. Thibault, Justin S. Sanchez, Rebecca Finney, Zoe B. Rubinstein, Danielle V. Mayblyum, Ron J. Killiany, Charlie S. Decarli, Keith A. Johnson, Alexa S. Beiser, Sudha Seshadri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Depressive symptoms predict increased risk for dementia decades before the emergence of cognitive symptoms. Studies in older adults provide preliminary evidence for an association between depressive symptoms and amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau accumulation. It is unknown if similar alterations are observed in midlife when preventive strategies may be most effective. Objective: The study aim was to evaluate the association between depressive symptoms and cerebral Aβ and tau in a predominately middle-aged cohort with examination of the apolipoprotein (APOE) ϵ4 allele as a moderator. Methods: Participants included 201 adults (mean age 53±8 years) who underwent 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B amyloid and 18F-Flortaucipir tau positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Depressive symptoms were evaluated with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) at the time of PET imaging, as well as eight years prior. Associations between depressive symptoms at both timepoints, as well as depression (CES-D≥16), with regional Aβ and tau PET retention were evaluated with linear regression adjusting for age and sex. Interactions with the APOE ϵ4 allele were explored. Results: Depressive symptoms and depression were not associated with PET outcomes in the overall sample. However, among APOE ϵ4 allele carriers, there was a significant cross-sectional association between depressive symptoms and increased tau PET uptake in the entorhinal cortex (β= 0.446, SE = 0.155, p = 0.006) and amygdala (β= 0.350, SE = 0.133, p = 0.012). Conclusion: Although longitudinal studies are necessary, the results suggest that APOE ϵ4 carriers with depressive symptoms may present with higher susceptibility to early tau accumulation in regions integral to affective regulation and memory consolidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-260
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • APOE
  • Amygdala
  • PET imaging
  • amyloid-β
  • depression
  • depressive symptoms
  • entorhinal
  • tau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Neuroscience


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