Major depressive disorder (MDD) in the elderly is a risk factor for dementia, but the precise biological basis remains unknown, hampering the search for novel biomarkers and treatments. In this study, we performed metabolomics analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from cognitively intact elderly patients (N = 28) with MDD and age- and gender-matched healthy controls (N = 18). The CSF levels of 177 substances were measured, while 288 substances were below the detection limit. Only ascorbic acid was significantly different, with higher levels in the MDD group at baseline. There were no correlations between CSF ascorbic acid levels and clinical variables in MDD patients at baseline. At the 3-year follow-up, there was no difference of CSF ascorbic acid levels between the two groups. There was a negative correlation between CSF ascorbic acid and CSF amyloid-β42 levels in all subjects. However, there were no correlations between ascorbic acid and other biomarkers (e.g., amyloid-β40, total and phosphorylated tau protein). This preliminary study suggests that abnormalities in the transport and/or release of ascorbic acid might play a role in the pathogenesis of late-life depression.
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