Grey matter volume predicts improvement in geriatric depression in response to Tai Chi compared to Health Education

Author: Beatrix Krause-Sorio1, Prabha Siddarth1, Michaela M Milillo1, Lisa Kilpatrick1, Linda Ercoli1, Katherine L Narr2, Helen Lavretsky1
1 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2 Department of Neurology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Conference/Journal: Int Psychogeriatr
Date published: 2023 Dec 6
Other: Pages: 1-9 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1017/S1041610223004386. , Word Count: 259

Geriatric depression (GD) is associated with cognitive impairment and brain atrophy. Tai-Chi-Chih (TCC) is a promising adjunct treatment to antidepressants. We previously found beneficial effects of TCC on resting state connectivity in GD. We now tested the effect of TCC on gray matter volume (GMV) change and the association between baseline GMV and clinical outcome.

Forty-nine participants with GD (>=60 y) underwent antidepressant treatment (38 women).

Participants completed 3 months of TCC (N = 26) or health and wellness education control (HEW; N = 23).

Depression and anxiety symptoms and MRI scans were acquired at baseline and 3-month follow-up. General linear models (GLMs) tested group-by-time interactions on clinical scores. Freesurfer 6.0 was used to process T1-weighted images and to perform voxel-wise whole-brain GLMs of group on symmetrized percent GMV change, and on the baseline GMV and symptom change association, controlling for baseline symptom severity. Age and sex served as covariates in all models.

There were no group differences in baseline demographics or clinical scores, symptom change from baseline to follow-up, or treatment-related GMV change. However, whole-brain analysis revealed that lower baseline GMV in several clusters in the TCC, but not the HEW group, was associated with larger improvements in anxiety. This was similar for right precuneus GMV and depressive symptoms.

While we observed no effect on GMV due to the interventions, baseline regional GMV predicted symptom improvements with TCC but not HEW. Longer trials are needed to investigate the long-term effects of TCC on clinical symptoms and neuroplasticity.

Keywords: Tai Chi; geriatric depression; gray matter volume.

PMID: 38053398 DOI: 10.1017/S1041610223004386