Altruistic Social Activity, Depressive Symptoms, and Brain Regional Gray Matter Volume: Voxel-Based Morphometry Analysis From 8,695 Old Adults

Japan Prospective Studies Collaboration for Aging and Dementia (JPSC-AD) Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Altruistic social activity, such as giving support to others, has shown protective benefits on dementia risk and cognitive decline. However, the pathological mechanism is unclear. In the present study, we investigated the association between altruistic social activity and brain regional gray matter. Furthermore, to explore the psychological interplay in altruistic social activity, we tested mediating effect of depressive symptoms on brain regional gray matter. We performed a cross-sectional voxel-based morphology (VBM) analysis including 8 695 old adults (72.9 ± 6.1 years) from Japan Prospective Studies Collaboration for Aging and Dementia (JPSC-AD) Cohort. We measured altruistic social activities by self-report questionnaires, depressive symptoms by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)-short version. We employed the whole-brain VBM method to detect relevant structural properties related to altruistic social activity. We then performed multiple regression models to detect the mediating effect of depressive symptoms on particular brain regional gray matter volume while adjusting possible physical and social lifestyle covariables. We found that altruistic social activity is associated with larger gray matter volume in posterior insula, middle cingulate gyrus, hippocampus, thalamus, superior temporal gyrus, anterior orbital gyrus, and middle occipital gyrus. Depressive symptoms mediated over 10% on altruistic social activity and hippocampus volume, over 20% on altruistic social activity and cingulate gyrus volume. Our results indicated that altruistic social activity might preserve brain regional gray matter which are sensitive to aging and cognitive decline. Meanwhile, this association may be explained by indirect effect on depressive symptoms, suggesting that altruistic social activity may mitigate the neuropathology of dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1789-1797
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume77
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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