Imaging markers associated with the development of post-stroke depression and apathy: Results of the Cognition and Affect after Stroke - a Prospective Evaluation of Risks study

Elles Douven, Julie Staals, Whitney M. Freeze, Syenna H. J. Schievink, Danique M. J. Hellebrekers, Robin Wolz, Jacobus F. A. Jansen, Robert J. van Oostenbrugge, Frans R. J. Verhey, Pauline Aalten, Sebastian Kohler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Introduction: It has been suggested that the development of post-stroke apathy (PSA) and depression (PSD) may be more strongly associated with generalised brain pathology, rather than the stroke lesion itself. The present study aimed to investigate associations between imaging markers of lesion-related and generalised brain pathology and the development of PSA and PSD during a one-year follow-up.

Patients and methods: In a prospective cohort study, 188 stroke patients received 3-Tesla MRI at baseline (three months post-stroke) for evaluation of lesion-related, vascular, and degenerative brain pathology. Presence of lacunes, microbleeds, white matter hyperintensities, and enlarged perivascular spaces was summed to provide a measure of total cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD) burden (range 0-4). The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and Apathy Evaluation Scale were administered at baseline and repeated at 6- and 12-month follow-up to define presence of PSD and PSA, respectively.

Results: Population-averaged logistic regression models showed that global brain atrophy and severe cSVD burden (score 3-4) were significantly associated with the odds of having PSA (ORGEE 5.33, 95% CI 1.99-14.25 and 3.04, 95% CI 1.20-7.69, respectively), independent of stroke lesion volume and co-morbid PSD. Medium cSVD burden (score 2) was significantly associated with the odds of having PSD (ORGEE 2.92, 95% CI 1.09-7.78), independent of stroke lesion volume, co-morbid PSA, and pre-stroke depression. No associations were found with lesion-related markers.

Conclusions: The results suggest that generalised degenerative and vascular brain pathology, rather than lesion-related pathology, is an important predictor for the development of PSA, and less strongly for PSD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2396987319883445
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Stroke Journal
Issue number1
Early online date16 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Depression
  • apathy
  • stroke
  • imaging
  • MRI
  • MOOD

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