Presenilin-1 Mutations Associated With Higher Risk Of Depression In Women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with mutations in their presenilin-1 (PS1) gene have higher levels of depression than do female relatives without such mutations, according to a report in the March issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.

Previous studies have shown an association between depression and the subsequent increased risk of dementia, the authors explain, but mood changes in preclinical carriers of mutations that predispose to dementia, such as mutations in PS1, have not been systematically studied.

Dr. John M. Ringman from UCLA Department of Neurology, Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the effect of PS1 mutations on mood and cognition in 33 asymptomatic Mexican women (17 PS1 mutation carriers and 16 non-carriers) who were unaware of their genetic status.

PS1 mutation carriers scored significantly higher than did non-carriers on the Beck Depression Inventory (14.4 versus 6.5, respectively), the authors report. Nearly twice as many mutation carriers (24%) than non-carriers (12.5%) had sought help from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Mutation carriers also performed more poorly on the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Wechsler memory scale associative learning subtest-immediate recall, and the Wechsler adult intelligence scale block design, the researchers note.

Similar percentages of mutation carriers and non-carriers had subjective memory problems, the report indicates.

"This study provides further evidence that depression is an intrinsic part of the disease process in Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Ringman told Reuters Health.

"Members of these rare families with PS1 mutations, though they develop the neuropathology characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, can also have features atypical of the more common form of Alzheimer's disease (faster progression of illness, paraparesis, early seizures and myoclonus)," Dr. Ringman explained, "and therefore it may not be possible to completely apply these findings to Alzheimer's disease in general."

"Most people who know they are at risk do not themselves want to be genetically tested," Dr. Ringman added. However, those who do undergo genetic screening and who test positive "should definitely be screened for depression."

"Even if someone is in the process of developing a neurodegenerative disease," Dr. Ringman concluded, "pharmacologic treatment of depression would be indicated."

Source: J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2004;75:500-502. [ Google search on this article ]

MeSH Headings: Community Health Services : Data Collection : Diagnosis : Diagnostic Services : Environment and Public Health : Epidemiologic Methods : Health Care Facilities, Manpower, and Services : Genetic Screening : Health : Health Occupations : Health Services : Health Services Administration : Health Surveys : Information Science : Mass Screening : Medicine : Investigative Techniques : Population Characteristics : Preventive Health Services : Preventive Medicine : Public Health : Quality of Health Care : Specialties, Medical : Public Health Practice : Health Care Quality, Access, and Evaluation : Health Care Evaluation Mechanisms : Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures : Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment : Biological Sciences : Health Care : Information Science

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