Impact of Strategically Located White Matter Hyperintensities on Cognition in Memory Clinic Patients with Small Vessel Disease.
ABSTRACT: Studies on the impact of small vessel disease (SVD) on cognition generally focus on white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume. The extent to which WMH location relates to cognitive performance has received less attention, but is likely to be functionally important. We examined the relation between WMH location and cognition in a memory clinic cohort of patients with sporadic SVD.A total of 167 patients with SVD were recruited from memory clinics. Assumption-free region of interest-based analyses based on major white matter tracts and voxel-wise analyses were used to determine the association between WMH location and executive functioning, visuomotor speed and memory.Region of interest-based analyses showed that WMHs located particularly within the anterior thalamic radiation and forceps minor were inversely associated with both executive functioning and visuomotor speed, independent of total WMH volume. Memory was significantly associated with WMH volume in the forceps minor, independent of total WMH volume. An independent assumption-free voxel-wise analysis identified strategic voxels in these same tracts. Region of interest-based analyses showed that WMH volume within the anterior thalamic radiation explained 6.8% of variance in executive functioning, compared to 3.9% for total WMH volume; WMH volume within the forceps minor explained 4.6% of variance in visuomotor speed and 4.2% of variance in memory, compared to 1.8% and 1.3% respectively for total WMH volume.Our findings identify the anterior thalamic radiation and forceps minor as strategic white matter tracts in which WMHs are most strongly associated with cognitive impairment in memory clinic patients with SVD. WMH volumes in individual tracts explained more variance in cognition than total WMH burden, emphasizing the importance of lesion location when addressing the functional consequences of WMHs.
Project description:White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) and lacunes are magnetic resonance imaging hallmarks of cerebral small-vessel disease, which increase the risk of stroke, cognitive, and mobility impairment. Although most studies of cerebral small-vessel disease have focused on white matter abnormalities, the gray matter (GM) is also affected, as evidenced by frequently observed lacunes in subcortical GM. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is sensitive to subtle neurodegenerative changes in deep GM structures. We explored the relationship between baseline DTI characteristics of the thalamus, caudate, and putamen, and the volume and subsequent accrual of WMHs over a 4-year period in 56 community-dwelling older (?75 years) individuals. Baseline thalamic fractional anisotropy (FA) was an independent predictor of WMH accrual. WMH accrual also correlated with baseline lacune count and baseline WMH volume, the latter showing the strongest predictive power, explaining 27.3% of the variance. The addition of baseline thalamic FA in multivariate modeling increased this value by 70%, which explains 46.5% of the variance in WMH accrual rate. Thalamic FA might serve as a novel predictor of cerebral small-vessel disease progression in clinical settings and trials. Furthermore, our findings point to the possibility of a causal relationship between thalamic damage and the accrual of WMHs.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>We sought to investigate associations of regional white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) within white matter (WM) tracts with cardiovascular risk and brain aging-related atrophy throughout adulthood in the general population, leveraging state of the art pattern analysis methods.<h4>Methods</h4>We analyzed a large sample (n = 2367) from the Study of Health in Pomerania, Germany (range 20-90 years). WMHs were automatically segmented on T1-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery magnetic resonance images, and WMH volumes were calculated in WM regions defined using the John Hopkins University WM tractography atlas. Regions with the highest average WMH volume were selected. We calculated a subject-specific index, Spatial Pattern of Alteration for Recognition of Brain Aging, to measure age-related atrophy patterns. The Framingham cardiovascular disease risk score summarized the individual cardiovascular risk profile. We used structural equation models, independently for each region, using Spatial Pattern of Alteration for Recognition of Brain Aging as a dependent variable, age as an independent variable, and cardiovascular disease risk score and regional WMH volumes as mediators.<h4>Results</h4>Selected 12 WM regions included 75% of the total WMH burden in average. Structural equation models showed that the age effect on Spatial Pattern of Alteration for Recognition of Brain Aging was mediated by WMHs to a different extent in the superior frontal WM, anterior corona radiata, inferior frontal WM, superior corona radiata, superior longitudinal fasciculus, middle temporal WM, posterior corona radiata, superior parietal WM, splenium of corpus callosum, posterior thalamic radiation, and middle occipital WM (variance explained between 2.8% and 10.3%, <i>P</i> < .0001 Bonferroni corrected), but not in precentral WM.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results indicate that WMHs, in most WM tracts, might accelerate the brain aging process throughout adulthood in the general population as a result of vascular risk factors, but also independent of them. Preventive strategies against WMHs (such as controlling vascular risk factors or microglia depletion) could delay brain aging.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Research in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) has mainly focused on Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related MRI markers, such as hippocampal volume. However, small vessel disease (SVD) is currently established as serious comorbidity in dementia and its preliminary stages. It is therefore important to examine SVD markers in addition to AD markers in older adults presenting with SCD. OBJECTIVE:The aim of our study was to elucidate the role of SVD markers in late middle-aged to older adults with and without SCD in addition to the commonly found role of AD markers (hippocampal volume). METHODS:67 healthy late middle-aged to older adults participated in this study (mean age 68 years); 25 participants with SCD and 42 participants without SCD. We evaluated quantitative as well as qualitative AD markers (i.e., hippocampal volume and medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA) scale) and SVD markers (i.e., white matter hyperintensities (WMH) volume, Fazekas scale, microbleeds, and lacunar infarcts), and neuropsychological function and amount of memory complaints. RESULTS:We found a significant effect of SCD on hippocampal atrophy, as assessed using the MTA scale, but not on hippocampal volume. In addition, we found a significant effect of SCD, and amount of memory complaints, on WMH volume and Fazekas score, suggesting larger WMH volumes in participants with SCD. CONCLUSION:SVD MRI markers are related to amount of memory complaints, in addition to the commonly observed AD MRI markers, as demonstrated by the greater WMHs in healthy late middle-aged to older adults with SCD.
Project description:White Matter Hyperintensities (WMHs) are associated with cognitive decline in aging and Alzheimer's disease. However, the pathogenesis of cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease (PD) is not as clearly related to vascular causes, and therefore the role of WMHs as a marker of small-vessel disease (SVD) in PD is less clear. Currently, SVD in PD is assessed and treated independently of the disease. However, if WMH as the major MRI sign of SVD has a higher impact on cognitive decline in PD patients than in healthy controls, vascular pathology needs to be assessed and treated with a higher priority in this population. Here we investigate whether the presence of WMHs leads to increased cognitive decline in de novo PD, and if these effects relate to cortical atrophy. WMHs and cortical thickness were measured in de novo PD patients and age-matched controls (NPD?=?365, NControl?=?174) from Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) to study the relationship between baseline WMHs, future cognitive decline (follow-up: 4.09?±?1.14?years) and cortical atrophy (follow-up: 1.05?±?0.10?years). PD subjects with high baseline WMH loads had significantly greater cognitive decline than i) PD subjects with low WMH load, and ii) control subjects with high WMH load. Furthermore, in PD subjects, high WMH load resulted in more cortical thinning in the right frontal lobe. Theses results show that the presence of WMHs in de novo PD patients predicts greater future cognitive decline and cortical atrophy than in normal aging.
Project description:In cognitively normal (CN) elderly individuals, white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are commonly viewed as a marker of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). SVD is due to exposure to systemic vascular injury processes associated with highly prevalent vascular risk factors (VRFs) such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. However, cerebral amyloid accumulation is also prevalent in this population and is associated with WMH accrual. Therefore, we examined the independent associations of amyloid burden and VRFs with WMH burden in CN elderly individuals with low to moderate vascular risk. Participants (n = 150) in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) received fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRI at study entry. Total WMH volume was calculated from FLAIR images co-registered with structural MRI. Amyloid burden was determined by cerebrospinal fluid A?1-42 levels. Clinical histories of VRFs, as well as current measurements of vascular status, were recorded during a baseline clinical evaluation. We tested ridge regression models for independent associations and interactions of elevated blood pressure (BP) and amyloid to total WMH volume. We found that greater amyloid burden and a clinical history of hypertension were independently associated with greater WMH volume. In addition, elevated BP modified the association between amyloid and WMH, such that those with either current or past evidence of elevated BP had greater WMH volumes at a given burden of amyloid. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that cerebral amyloid accumulation and VRFs are independently associated with clinically latent white matter damage represented by WMHs. The potential contribution of amyloid to WMHs should be further explored, even among elderly individuals without cognitive impairment and with limited VRF exposure.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Whether WMHs are associated with the decline of functional neural networks in AD is debated. METHOD:Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and WMH were assessed in 78 subjects with increased amyloid levels on AV-45 positron emission tomography (PET) in different clinical stages of AD. We tested the association between WMH volume in major atlas-based fiber tract regions of interest (ROIs) and changes in functional connectivity (FC) between the tracts' projection areas within the default mode network (DMN). RESULTS:WMH volume within the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) was the highest among all tract ROIs and associated with reduced FC in IFOF-connected DMN areas, independently of global AV-45 PET. Higher AV-45 PET contributed to reduced FC in IFOF-connected, temporal, and parietal DMN areas. CONCLUSIONS:High fiber tract WMH burden is associated with reduced FC in connected areas, thus adding to the effects of amyloid pathology on neuronal network function.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To investigate cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), blood flow, vascular and CSF pulsatility, and their independent relationship with cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) features in patients with minor ischemic stroke and MRI evidence of SVD. METHODS:We recruited patients with minor ischemic stroke and assessed CVR using blood oxygen level-dependent MRI during a hypercapnic challenge, cerebral blood flow (CBF), vascular and CSF pulsatility using phase-contrast MRI, and structural magnetic resonance brain imaging to quantify white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) and perivascular spaces (PVSs). We used multiple regression to identify parameters associated with SVD features, controlling for patient characteristics. RESULTS:Fifty-three of 60 patients completed the study with a full data set (age 68.0% ± 8.8 years, 74% male, 75% hypertensive). After controlling for age, sex, and systolic blood pressure, lower white matter CVR was associated with higher WMH volume (-0.01%/mm Hg per log10 increase in WMH volume, p = 0.02), basal ganglia PVS (-0.01%/mm Hg per point increase in the PVS score, p = 0.02), and higher venous pulsatility (superior sagittal sinus -0.03%/mm Hg, p = 0.02, per unit increase in the pulsatility index) but not with CBF (p = 0.58). Lower foramen magnum CSF stroke volume was associated with worse white matter CVR (0.04%/mm Hg per mL increase in stroke volume, p = 0.04) and more severe basal ganglia PVS (p = 0.09). CONCLUSIONS:Lower CVR, higher venous pulsatility, and lower foramen magnum CSF stroke volume indicate that dynamic vascular dysfunctions underpin PVS dysfunction and WMH development. Further exploration of microvascular dysfunction and CSF dynamics may uncover new mechanisms and intervention targets to reduce SVD lesion development, cognitive decline, and stroke.
Project description:Subcortical white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in the aging population frequently represent vascular injury that may lead to cognitive impairment. WMH progression is well described, but the factors underlying WMH regression remain poorly understood. A sample of 351 participants from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 2 (ADNI2) was explored who had WMH volumetric quantification, structural brain measures, and cognitive measures (memory and executive function) at baseline and after approximately 2 years. Selected participants were categorized into three groups based on WMH change over time, including those that demonstrated regression (<i>n</i> = 96; 25.5%), stability (<i>n</i> = 72; 19.1%), and progression (<i>n</i> = 209; 55.4%). There were no significant differences in age, education, sex, or cognitive status between groups. Analysis of variance demonstrated significant differences in atrophy between the progression and both regression (<i>p</i> = 0.004) and stable groups (<i>p</i> = 0.012). Memory assessments improved over time in the regression and stable groups but declined in the progression group (<i>p</i> = 0.003; <i>p</i> = 0.018). WMH regression is associated with decreased brain atrophy and improvement in memory performance over two years compared to those with WMH progression, in whom memory and brain atrophy worsened. These data suggest that WMHs are dynamic and associated with changes in atrophy and cognition.
Project description:Cognitive processing speed is crucial for human cognition and declines with aging. White matter hyperintensity (WMH), a common sign of WM vascular damage in the elderly, is closely related to slower psychomotor processing speed. In this study, we investigated the association between WMH and psychomotor speed changes through a comprehensive assessment of brain structural and functional features. Multi-modal MRIs were acquired from 60 elderly adults. Psychomotor processing speeds were assessed using the Trail Making Test Part A (TMT-A). Linear regression analyses were performed to assess the associations between TMT-A and brain features, including WMH volumes in five cerebral regions, diffusivity parameters in the major WM tracts, regional gray matter volume, and brain activities across the whole brain. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to demonstrate the contribution of each index to slower psychomotor processing speed. Linear regression analysis demonstrated that WMH volume in the occipital lobe and fractional anisotropy of the forceps major, an occipital association tract, were associated with TMT-A. Besides, resting-state brain activities in the visual cortex connected to the forceps major were associated with TMT-A. Hierarchical regression showed fractional anisotropy of the forceps major and regional brain activities were significant predictors of TMT-A. The occurrence of WMH, combined with the disruption of passing-through fiber integrity and altered functional activities in areas connected by this fiber, are associated with a decline of psychomotor processing speed. While the causal relationship of this WMH-Tract-Function-Behavior link requires further investigation, this study enhances our understanding of these complex mechanisms.
Project description:Background: Enlarged perivascular spaces (ePVS) are common finding on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in elderly. ePVS are thought to be associated with cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) such as white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, and cerebral microbleeds (CMBs). However, the different location of SVD and its relationship to ePVS distribution requires further investigation. Objective: To study the association between location and severity of SVD with ePVS from memory clinic and population-based settings. Methods: This study includes patients from an ongoing memory clinic based case-control study and participants from the population-based: Epidemiology of Dementia in Singapore study (EDIS). All participants underwent a comprehensive standardized evaluation including physical, medical and neuropsychological assessment and a brain MRI. CMBs and lacune location were categorized into strictly lobar, strictly deep and mixed, and ePVS location into centrum semiovale and basal ganglia. WMH volume was automatically segmented and was classified into anterior and posterior distribution. Negative binomial regression models were constructed to analyse associations between SVD and ePVS and the rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were reported. Results: Of 375 patients (median age = 73 years) from memory clinic and 583 participants (median age = 70 years) from EDIS, the median total ePVS count was 17.0 and 7.0, respectively. Increased severity of SVD was not associated with total ePVS counts in both memory clinic and EDIS study. Analysis with the location of SVD and ePVS also showed similar results. However, in EDIS study, presence of ?2 lacunes [RR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.3, 2.30, p = 0.009], presence of ?2 CMBs [RR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.08, 1.83, p = 0.012], and higher volume of WMH [RR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.10, 1.81, p = 0.006] were associated with basal ganglia ePVS independent of age, gender and vascular risk factors. Conclusion: In this study, we found that the ePVS were not associated with the location and severity of SVD in the memory-clinic patients. However, only severity of SVD was associated with basal ganglia ePVS in the population-based setting. Our findings will need to be studied further in different cohorts so as to understand the mechanism underlying different SVD types in subclinical and clinical phases as well as for predicting cognitive decline.