Brain metabolites and cognitive function among older depressed and healthy individuals using 2D MR spectroscopy

Virginia Elderkin-Thompson, M. Albert Thomas, Nader Binesh, Jim Mintz, Ebrahim Haroon, Jennifer J. Dunkin, Anand Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Brain metabolites of choline (Ch) and myo-Inisotol (mI) have been reported as elevated among geriatric depressed patients. Two-dimensional (2D) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) provides estimates of Ch, ml, and creatine (Cr) similar to one-dimensional MRS, and it also estimates the resonances of the Ch-containing compounds of phosphoethanolamine (Pe) and phosphocholine (PCh). In this cross-sectional geriatric study, 14 depressed patients and 14 healthy volunteers who were comparable in age, gender, education, comorbid medical burden, and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores completed 2D MRS and a neurocognitive battery. A voxel in the left dorsolateral cortex, which was comprised of approximately 60% white matter, was used to estimate the CR ratios of Ch, PCh, Pe, and ml. Composite scores for cognitive function were developed for verbal learning, recall, recognition, executive function, hypothesis generation, and processing speed. Among nondepressed subjects, cognition was positively correlated with Ch/Cr and ml/Cr and negatively correlated with PCh/Cr in four domains of verbal learning, recognition, recall, and hypothesis generation. In contrast, depressed patients did not have consistent relationships between Ch/Cr, ml/Cr, and PCh/Cr and cognition. There was a significant difference in the overall pattern of associations between the four metabolites and verbal learning and processing speed in depressed patients compared to healthy controls. The attenuated relationship between metabolites and specific cognitive domains in patients with late-life MDD suggests that the level of cognitive performance observed during depressive episodes may be associated with changes in biochemistry within the frontostriatal neuronal circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2251-2257
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Metabolites
  • Neuroimaging
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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