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Amyloid Beta, Anxious-Depressive Symptoms Link

Am J Psychiatry; ePub 2018 Jan 12; Donovan, et al

Higher amyloid beta burden was associated with increasing anxious-depressive symptoms over time in cognitively normal older individuals, according to a recent study. In addition, prior depression history was related to higher, but not worsening, symptom ratings. These results suggest a direct or indirect association of elevated amyloid beta levels with worsening anxious-depressive symptoms and support the hypothesis that emerging neuropsychiatric symptoms represent an early manifestation of preclinical Alzheimer disease. A total of 270 community-dwelling, cognitively normal, elderly individuals underwent baseline Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET) measures of cortical aggregate amyloid beta and annual assessments with the 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Researchers found:

  • Higher PiB binding predicted accelerated rates of increase in GDS score over time, adjusting for depression history.
  • Higher PiB binding also predicted steeper rates of increase for anxiety-concentration scores, adjusting for depression history and the American National Adult Reading Test (AMNART) score-by-time interaction.
  • In a post hoc model estimating anxiety scores without concentration disturbance items, the PiB binding-by-time interaction remained significant.


Donovan NJ, Locasio JJ, Marshall GA, et al. Longitudinal association of amyloid beta and anxious-depressive symptoms in cognitively normal older adults. [Published online ahead of print January 12, 2018]. Am J Psychiatry. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040442.

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