Major depression and coronary flow reserve detected by positron emission tomography

Viola Vaccarino, John Votaw, Tracy Faber, Emir Veledar, Nancy V. Murrah, Linda R. Jones, Jinying Zhao, Shaoyong Su, Jack Goldberg, J. Paolo Raggi, Arshed A. Quyyumi, David S. Sheps, J. Douglas Bremner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with coronary heart disease (CHD), but the mechanisms are unclear. The presence of MDD may increase CHD risk by affecting microvascular circulation. It is also plausible that genetic factors influencing MDD may overlap with those for CHD. We sought to examine the relationship between MDD and coronary flow reserve (CFR), the ratio of maximum flow during stress to flow at rest measured in milliliters per minute per gram of tissue. Methods: Weexamined 289 male middle-aged twins, including 106 twins (53 twin pairs) discordant for a lifetime history of MDD and 183 control twins (unrelated to any twins in the experimental group) without MDD. To calculate CFR, we used positron emission tomography with nitrogen 13 (13N) ammonia to evaluate myocardial blood flow at rest and after adenosine stress. A standard perfusion defect score was also used to assess myocardial ischemia. Results: There was no difference in myocardial ischemia between twins with and without MDD. Among the dizygotic twin pairs discordant for MDD, the CFR was 14% lower in the twins with MDD than in their brothers without MDD (2.36 vs 2.74) (P=.03). This association was not present in the monozygotic discordant pairs who were genetically matched (2.86 vs 2.64) (P=.19). The zygosity-MDD interaction after adjustment was significant (P=.006). The CFR in the dizygotic twins with MDD was also lower than in the control twins. Conclusions: Our results provide evidence for a shared genetic pathway between MDD and microvascular dysfunction. Common pathophysiologic processes may link MDD and early atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1676
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number18
StatePublished - Oct 12 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Major depression and coronary flow reserve detected by positron emission tomography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this