Mood States & Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Program | NYU Langone Health

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Department of Psychiatry Research Mood States & Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Program

Mood States & Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Program

The goal of the Mood States and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Program, part of NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry, is to investigate how depression and other psychiatric disorders may affect the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Under the leadership of Nunzio Pomara, MD, its team of researchers focuses on epidemiological studies to determine if a history of psychiatric conditions may be associated with an increased risk for the disease.

Clinical Research

Our clinical researchers are determining whether depression and anxiety affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression and Amyloid Beta Dynamics

Our researchers are examining the links between depression, cerebrospinal fluid, and the blood biomarkers that are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, specifically amyloid beta peptides. Our team’s hypothesis is that the increased platelet activation associated with depression may increase circulating amyloid beta levels and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In a related investigation, we have seen that a reduction in depressive symptoms resulted in a normalization of amyloid beta levels.

We are now conducting a prospective eight-week double-blind placebo-controlled study to determine if escitalopram treatment and reduction in depressive symptoms influence amyloid beta levels and other biomarkers implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. This research is being conducted in collaboration with Ricardo M. Osorio Suarez, MD, Jaime Ramos Cejudo, PhD, Chelsea Reichert, PhD, Dan Iosifescu, MD, Henry Rusinek, and Michele Santacatterina, PhD. For more information about this research, please contact Dr. Reichert at 646-754-2239, or email

Subsyndromal Depression, Anxiety, and Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarkers

Many older individuals suffer from milder subsyndromal forms of depression or anxiety, which may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. A dataset collected as part of the Memory Education and Research Initiative at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research may help determine if these mood states predict longitudinal changes in blood-based biomarkers, especially indices of increased brain amyloid burden and neurodegeneration in older adults.

Clinical Trials

We are conducting clinical trials on the treatment of agitation in dementia of the Alzheimer’s type and biomarker development for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease.

AVP-786 for the Treatment of Agitation in Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type

In collaboration with the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, this 16-week double-blind placebo-controlled study evaluates the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of AVP-786 for the treatment of agitation in patients with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Deudextromethorphan hydrobromide plus quinidine sulfate will be compared to placebo during the double-blind phase of this study. Neuropsychiatric symptoms, global assessments of severity, and improvement of agitation and quality of life will also be examined. After completion of this phase, patients can choose to enroll in the long-extension phase of the study for approximately 64 weeks. Patients who received placebo in the double-blind phase of the study will receive AVP-786.

Key Eligibility Criteria: Patients with clinically significant and moderate to severe agitation that interferes with daily routine and requires medication at the time of screening and for at least two weeks prior to randomization.

For more information about this study, please contact Antero Sarreal, research coordinator, at 646-754-2239 or email

Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is a multicenter longitudinal study funded by the National Institute on Aging to develop clinical, imaging, genetic, and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Pomara leads this study as the principal investigator in collaboration with the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.

There are three major goals of the ADNI study, which launched in 2011. One is to detect Alzheimer’s disease at the earliest possible stages—prior to a dementia diagnosis—and identify ways to track the condition’s progression with biomarkers. Another goal is to support advances in Alzheimer’s disease intervention, prevention, and treatment through the application of new diagnostic methods at the earliest possible stages, when intervention may be most effective. Third, we continually administer ADNI’s innovative data-access policy, which provides all data to all scientists in the world, embargo-free.

Current Grants

Our current funding is from a National Institutes of Health R01AG070821 grant, Depression treatment and Aβ dynamics: A study of Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Featured Publications

Plasma Amyloid-β dynamics in late-life major depression: a longitudinal study. Pomara N … Blennow K. Transl Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 28. DOI.

Cross-sectional associations of CSF tau levels with Rey’s AVLT: A recency ratio study. Bruno D … Mueller KD. Neuropsychology. 2022 May 23. DOI.

Platelet Function Is Associated With Dementia Risk in the Framingham Heart Study. Ramos Cejudo J … Osorio RS. J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 May 3. DOI.

Association of Cholinergic Basal Forebrain Volume and Functional Connectivity with Markers of Inflammatory Response in the Alzheimer’s Disease Spectrum. Teipel SJ … Heneka MT. J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2022. DOI.

Association of CSF sTREM2, a marker of microglia activation, with cholinergic basal forebrain volume in major depressive disorder. Teipel S … Pomara N. J Affect Disord. 2021 Oct 1. DOI.

Evidence of upregulation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in late-life depression. Pomara N … Blennow K. J Affect Disord. 2021 May 1. DOI.

Research Training

Resident psychiatrists have an opportunity to conduct research with our faculty in abnormal mood states, Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, and increased risks for Alzheimer’s disease.

Contact Us

For more information about our current research projects or clinical trials, please contact Dr. Reichert at 646-754-2239 or email