The Cognitive Profile of Depressed Patients With Cirrhosis



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Objective: To determine whether patients with cirrhosis and depressive symptoms have a different neuropsychological cognitive profile from patients with cirrhosis without depressive symptoms in order to show that cirrhosis may not be the only cause for cognitive decline in patients with cirrhosis.

Method: Adult outpatients with a diagnosis of cirrhosis based on histologic findings and clinical characteristics, who did not have clinically overt hepatic encephalopathy and who were being treated in the advanced liver disease and liver transplant clinics, were recruited for the study from May 2003 to May 2006. Patients underwent neuropsychological testing and evaluation for depression using the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Age-adjusted standard neuropsychological domain scores were compared between depressed (BDI-II score ≥ 14) and nondepressed (BDI-II score < 14) patients.

Results: Seventy-five subjects were included in the study. The 23 patients with depression were similar to the 52 nondepressed patients in level of education, age, and race; the laboratory parameters of international normalized ratio, bilirubin, creatinine, and albumin concentration; and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease scores. There was a higher percentage of women in the depressed group than in the nondepressed group, with a trend toward significance (52% vs 29%; P = .07). No etiology of liver disease was associated with depression. In linear regression analyses, decreases in cognitive function were associated with higher BDI-II scores for the domains of working memory (P = .026), with a trend toward significance for visual-perception (P = .056). Approximately 7% of the variability in working memory score was predicted using the BDI score.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are associated with worsened cognitive function in cirrhosis.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2011;13(3):e1–e7

Submitted: September 24, 2010; accepted November 22, 2010.

Published online: May 26, 2011 (doi:10.4088/PCC.10m01090).

Corresponding author: Charmaine A. Stewart, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, 406 Harvard St SE, VFW Bldg, Room V379, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2011;13(3):e1-e7