Relationship of endothelial function and atherosclerosis to treatment response in late-life depression

R. Paranthaman, A. Greenstein, A. S. Burns, A. M. Heagerty, R. A. Malik, R. C. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Treatment response in late-life depression has been linked to cerebrovascular disease notably via the vascular depression hypothesis. This study investigated the relationship between endothelial function and atherosclerosis and treatment response to antidepressant monotherapy. Methods Twenty five patients with late-life depression were compared with 21 non-depressed control subjects in a case control study. Nine of the depressed subjects were responders to antidepressant monotherapy and 16 were not. Vascular measures included assessment of carotid intima media thickness (IMT) representing atherosclerosis and biopsied small artery dilatation to acetylcholine to assess endothelial function in a subset of subjects. Results There were no group differences in vascular risks or sociodemographic variables. There was a significant group difference (responders versus non-responders versus controls) on both IMT and endothelial function (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively) with a significant difference between controls and non-responders (p < 0.001) on IMT and between controls and responders (p < 0.05) and control versus non-responders (p < 0.05) on endothelial function but no significant difference between responders and non-responders. On both IMT and endothelial function, there was a gradient across groups, with control subjects having best vascular structure or function, non-responders worse and responders in-between. Conclusions The results are consistent with a hypothesis that poorer antidepressant response in later life depressive disorder may be linked to an underlying vascular dysfunction and pathology. The study is small, and the results require replication but if confirmed, trials with vasoprotective medication aimed at improving vascular function in order to alter the prognosis of late-life depression would be a rational development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-973
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012



  • atherosclerosis
  • depression
  • endothelial function
  • mood disorders
  • old age
  • treatment response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this