Antidepressant outcomes in older adults with depression is poor, possibly because of comorbidities such as cerebrovascular disease. Therefore, we leveraged multiple genome-wide approaches to understand the genetic architecture of antidepressant response. Our sample included 307 older adults (≥60 years) with current major depression, treated with venlafaxine extended-release for 12 weeks. A standard genome-wide association study (GWAS) was conducted for post-treatment remission status, followed by in silico biological characterization of associated genes, as well as polygenic risk scoring for depression, neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disease. The top-associated variants for remission status and percentage symptom improvement were
PIEZO1rs12597726 ( OR= 0.33 [0.21, 0.51], p= 1.42 × 10−6) and intergenic rs6916777 ( Beta= 14.03 [8.47, 19.59], p= 1.25 × 10−6), respectively. Pathway analysis revealed significant contributions from genes involved in the ubiquitin-proteasome system, which regulates intracellular protein degradation with has implications for inflammation, as well as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease ( n= 25 of 190 genes, p= 8.03 × 10−6, FDR-corrected p= 0.01). Given the polygenicity of complex outcomes such as antidepressant response, we also explored 11 polygenic risk scores associated with risk for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Of the 11 scores, risk for cardioembolic stroke was the second-best predictor of non-remission, after being male (Accuracy = 0.70 [0.59, 0.79], Sensitivity = 0.72, Specificity = 0.67; p= 2.45 × 10−4). Although our findings did not reach genome-wide significance, they point to previously-implicated mechanisms and provide support for the roles of vascular and inflammatory pathways in LLD. Overall, significant enrichment of genes involved in protein degradation pathways that may be impaired, as well as the predictive capacity of risk for cardioembolic stroke, support a link between late-life depression remission and risk for vascular dysfunction.