Depression and Alzheimer's Disease Biomarkers Predict Driving Decline

Ganesh M. Babulal, Suzie Chen, Monique M. Williams, Jean Francois Trani, Parul Bakhshi, Grace L. Chao, Sarah H. Stout, Anne M. Fagan, Tammie L.S. Benzinger, David M. Holtzman, John C. Morris, Catherine M. Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Symptomatic Alzheimer's disease (AD) and depression independently increase crash risk. Additionally, depression is both a risk factor for and a consequence of AD. Objective: To examine whether a depression diagnosis, antidepressant use, and preclinical AD are associated with driving decline among cognitively normal older adults. Methods: Cognitively normal participants, age ≥65, were enrolled. Cox proportional hazards models evaluated whether a depression diagnosis, depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale), antidepressant use, cerebrospinal fluid (amyloid-β 42 [Aβ 42 ], tau, phosphorylated tau 181 [ptau 181 ]), and amyloid imaging biomarkers (Pittsburgh Compound B and Florbetapir) were associated with time to receiving a rating of marginal/fail on a road test. Age was adjusted for in all models. Results: Data were available from 131 participants with age ranging from 65.4 to 88.2 years and mean follow up of 2.4 years (SD = 1.0). A depression diagnosis was associated with a faster time to receiving a marginal/fail rating on a road test and antidepressant use (p = 0.024, HR = 2.62). Depression diagnosis and CSF and amyloid PET imaging biomarkers were associated with driving performance on the road test (p≤0.05, HR = 2.51-3.15). In the CSF ptau 181 model, depression diagnosis (p = 0.031, HR = 2.51) and antidepressant use (p = 0.037, HR = 2.50) were statistically significant predictors. There were no interaction effects between depression diagnosis, antidepressant use, and biomarker groups. Depressive symptomology was not a statistically significant predictor of driving performance. Conclusions: While, as previously shown, preclinical AD alone predicts a faster time to receiving a marginal/fail rating, these results suggest that also having a diagnosis of depression accelerates the onset of driving problems in cognitively normal older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • antidepressants
  • biomarkers
  • depression
  • driving
  • older adults

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