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Johanna Seitz-Holland, MD, PhD












Johanna Seitz-Holland *, Benoit H. Mulsant , Charles F. Reynolds III, Daniel M. Blumberger, Jordan F. Karp, Meryl A. Butters, Ana Paula Mendes-Silva, Erica L. Vieira, George Tseng, Eric J. Lenze MD, Breno S. Diniz

Markers of accelerated aging in depressed older adults and their association with clinical presentation

My research interest lies in applying advanced neuroimaging methods, multimodal study designs, and statistical approaches to study psychiatric disorders. I am particularly interested in the crosstalk between the body and brain and how that changes dependent on age and sex. Participating in the Women in Medicine & Science Symposium is essential for several reasons. I am in a rather technical field where women are still in the minority. I look forward to meeting other female scientists and getting inspired by them. I am also establishing myself as an independent researcher, looking to connect with other female scientists within the community.


Depression in older adults is associated with accelerated biological aging leading to excessive age-related medical morbidity, cognitive decline, and premature mortality. Previous studies in late-life depression (LLD) have reported the role of cellular senescence, a key hallmark of biological aging that can be assessed in peripheral blood, as an increased expression of senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) proteins. 


We measured a SASP index based on 22 proteins in 426 individuals diagnosed with LLD. We applied factor analyses to an extensive battery of clinical variables to group them into factors related to depression and anxiety, cognitive functioning, and physical health. We then tested the relationship between these factors and the SASP index


Men presented a higher SASP index than women. Regression analyses showed a strong relationship between the SASP index and physical health and a weaker association with cognitive functioning but no association with depression and anxiety. 


Our findings reinforce the role of physical health in the pathophysiology of LLD and support the notion of LLD as a systemic illness. Longitudinal studies are needed to understand if inhibition of cellular senescence should be considered in future efforts to prevent and treat LLD.