Data_Sheet_1_Confining the Concept of Vascular Depression to Late-Onset Depression: A Meta-Analysis of MRI-Defined Hyperintensity Burden in Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.csv

Background: The vascular depression hypothesis emphasizes the significance of vascular lesions in late-life depression. At present, no meta-analytic model has investigated whether a difference in hyperintensity burden compared to controls between late-life and late-onset depression is evident. By including a substantial number of studies, focusing on a meaningful outcome measure, and considering several moderating and control variables, the present meta-analysis investigates the severity of hyperintensity burden in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). A major focus of the present meta-analysis refers to the role of age at illness onset. It is analyzed whether late-onset rather than late-life depression characterizes vascular depression.

Method: In total, 68 studies were included in the meta-analysis and a multilevel random effects model was calculated using Hedges' g as the effect size measure.

Results: The severity of hyperintensity burden was significantly greater in the patient group compared to the control group. This effect was evident regarding the whole patient group (g = 0.229) as well as both depression subgroups, with a significantly greater effect in BD (g = 0.374) compared to MDD (g = 0.189). Hyperintensity burden was more pronounced in late-onset depression than in early-onset depression or late-life depression. A considerable heterogeneity between the included studies was observed, which is reflected by the large variability in effects sizes.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the present meta-analysis underscores the association of hyperintensities with MDD and BD. Especially late-onset depression is associated with an increased hyperintensity burden, which is in line with the vascular depression hypothesis. The results suggest that it might be more feasible to confine the concept of vascular depression specifically to late-onset depression as opposed to late-life depression. Further research is needed to understand the causal mechanisms that might underlie the relation between hyperintensity burden and depression.