Structural MRI correlates of apathy symptoms in older persons without dementia: AGES-Reykjavik Study

Anne M. Grool, Mirjam I. Geerlings, Sigurdur Sigurdsson, Gudny Eiriksdottir, Palmi V. Jonsson, Melissa E. Garcia, Kristin Siggeirsdottir, Tamara B. Harris, Thordur Sigmundsson, Vilmundur Gudnason, Lenore J. Launer

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Objective: We aimed to investigate the relation between apathy symptoms and structural brain changes on MRI, including white matter lesions (WMLs) and atrophy, in a large cohort of older persons. Methods: Cross-sectional analyses are based on 4, 354 persons without dementia (aged 76 ± 5 years) participating in the population-based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility- Reykjavik Study. Apathy symptoms were assessed with 3 items from the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale. Brain volumes and total WML volume were estimated on 1.5-tesla MRI using an automated segmentation program; regional WML load was calculated using a semiquantitative scale. Regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, education, intracranial volume, vascular risk factors, physical activity, brain infarcts, depressive symptoms, antidepressants, and cognitive status. Results: Compared tothosewith <2 apathy symptoms, participants with ≥2 apathy symptoms (49% of the cohort) had significantly smaller gray matter volumes (mean adjusted difference - 3.6 mL, 95% confidence interval [CI] -6.2 to -1.0), particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes; smaller white matter volumes (mean adjusted difference -1.9 mL, 95% CI -3.6 to -0.3), mainly in the parietal lobe; and smaller thalamus volumes. They were also more likely to have WMLs in the frontal lobe (adjusted odds ratio = 1.08, 95% CI 0.9-1.3). Excluding participants with a depression diagnosis did not change the associations. Conclusions: In this older population without dementia, apathy symptoms are associated with a more diffuse loss of both gray and white matter volumes, independent of depression. © 2014 American Academy of Neurology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1628-1635
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2014
Externally publishedYes

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