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University Of Pittsburgh Researchers Get NIMH Grant To Study Maintenance Therapies For Late-Life Depression​

PITTSBURGH, March 17, 2004 Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have received a five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate drug treatment strategies for improving and stabilizing cognitive functioning, mood and well-being in elderly people with depression.

The study, Maintenance Therapies in Late-Life Depression, will be the first controlled, long-term evaluation of strategies to slow the loss of memory and other cognitive functions that appear often in late-life depression. Such cognitive deficits are a major cause of loss of independence for seniors. Doctors have found that treating depression does not normalize cognitive functions or prevent further decline.

Cognitive impairment in late-life depression has not been adequately addressed in previous research, said Charles F. Reynolds III, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. In this study we hope to make the lives of patients with late-life depression better by finding the best therapy to improve and maintain cognitive functioning in elderly patients with major depression.

For the study, Dr. Reynolds and his colleagues will recruit 200 patients ages 70 and above with major depression. Those who respond to treatment with antidepressant medication will be randomly assigned to one of two 24-month treatments: antidepressant medication with donepezil and clinical management; or antidepressant medication with placebo and clinical management. Patients will be carefully monitored during the study to be sure they are responding adequately to depression treatment, are not relapsing into another depression episode and are not suffering dementia.

This NIH-sponsored study will take place under the auspices of the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging (IOA). The IOA strives to improve the health and well-being of older adults by linking enhancing research, education and clinical programs offered by the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and other private and public institutions.

For more information on the study, please call 412-246-6006.

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