Impact of small vessel disease in the brain on gait and balance.
ABSTRACT: Gait and balance impairment is highly prevalent in older people. We aimed to assess whether and how single markers of small vessel disease (SVD) or a combination thereof explain gait and balance function in the elderly. We analysed 678 community-dwelling healthy subjects from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 at the age of 71-74 years who had undergone comprehensive risk factor assessment, gait and balance assessment as well as brain MRI. We investigated the impact of individual SVD markers (white matter hyperintensity - WMH, microbleeds, lacunes, enlarged perivascular spaces, brain atrophy) as seen on structural brain MRI and of a global SVD score on the patients' performance. A regression model revealed that age, sex, and hypertension significantly explained gait speed. Among SVD markers white matter hyperintensity (WMH) score or volume were additional significant and independent predictors of gait speed in the regression model. A similar association was seen with the global SVD score. Our study confirms a negative impact of SVD-related morphologic brain changes on gait speed in addition to age, sex and hypertension independent from brain atrophy. The presence of WMH seems to be the major driving force for SVD on gait impairment in healthy elderly subjects.
Project description:Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), including white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes and microbleeds, and brain atrophy, are related to cognitive impairment. However, these magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers for SVD do not account for all the clinical variances observed in subjects with SVD. Here, we investigated the relation between conventional MRI markers for SVD, network efficiency and cognitive performance in 436 nondemented elderly with cerebral SVD. We computed a weighted structural connectivity network from the diffusion tensor imaging and deterministic streamlining. We found that SVD-severity (indicated by higher WMH load, number of lacunes and microbleeds, and lower total brain volume) was related to networks with lower density, connection strengths, and network efficiency, and to lower scores on cognitive performance. In multiple regressions models, network efficiency remained significantly associated with cognitive index and psychomotor speed, independent of MRI markers for SVD and mediated the associations between these markers and cognition. This study provides evidence that network (in)efficiency might drive the association between SVD and cognitive performance. This highlights the importance of network analysis in our understanding of SVD-related cognitive impairment in addition to conventional MRI markers for SVD and might provide an useful tool as disease marker.
Project description:Objectives: Hypertension is a major risk factor for white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, cerebral microbleeds, and perivascular spaces, which are MRI markers of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). Studies have shown associations between these individual MRI markers and cognitive functioning and decline. Recently, a "total SVD score" was proposed in which the different MRI markers were combined into one measure of SVD, to capture total SVD-related brain damage. We investigated if this SVD score was associated with cognitive decline over 4 years in patients with hypertension. Methods: In this longitudinal cohort study, 130 hypertensive patients (91 patients with uncomplicated hypertension and 39 hypertensive patients with a lacunar stroke) were included. They underwent a neuropsychological assessment at baseline and after 4 years. The presence of WMH, lacunes, cerebral microbleeds, and perivascular spaces were rated on baseline MRI. Presence of each individual marker was added to calculate the total SVD score (range 0-4) in each patient. Results: Uncorrected linear regression analyses showed associations between SVD score and decline in overall cognition (p = 0.017), executive functioning (p < 0.001) and information processing speed (p = 0.037), but not with memory (p = 0.911). The association between SVD score and decline in overall cognition and executive function remained significant after adjustment for age, sex, education, anxiety and depression score, potential vascular risk factors, patient group, and baseline cognitive performance. Conclusion: Our study shows that a total SVD score can predict cognitive decline, specifically in executive function, over 4 years in hypertensive patients. This emphasizes the importance of considering total brain damage due to SVD.
Project description:Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is a common cause of vascular cognitive impairment. A number of disease features can be assessed on MRI including lacunar infarcts, T2 lesion volume, brain atrophy, and cerebral microbleeds. In addition, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is sensitive to disruption of white matter ultrastructure, and recently it has been suggested that additional information on the pattern of damage may be obtained from axial diffusivity, a proposed marker of axonal damage, and radial diffusivity, an indicator of demyelination. We determined the contribution of these whole brain MRI markers to cognitive impairment in SVD. Consecutive patients with lacunar stroke and confluent leukoaraiosis were recruited into the ongoing SCANS study of cognitive impairment in SVD (n?=?115), and underwent neuropsychological assessment and multimodal MRI. SVD subjects displayed poor performance on tests of executive function and processing speed. In the SVD group brain volume was lower, white matter hyperintensity volume higher and all diffusion characteristics differed significantly from control subjects (n?=?50). On multi-predictor analysis independent predictors of executive function in SVD were lacunar infarct count and diffusivity of normal appearing white matter on DTI. Independent predictors of processing speed were lacunar infarct count and brain atrophy. Radial diffusivity was a stronger DTI predictor than axial diffusivity, suggesting ischaemic demyelination, seen neuropathologically in SVD, may be an important predictor of cognitive impairment in SVD. Our study provides information on the mechanism of cognitive impairment in SVD.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Serum neurofilament light (NfL)-chain is a circulating marker for neuroaxonal injury and is also associated with severity of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) cross-sectionally. Here we explored the association of serum-NfL with imaging and cognitive measures in SVD longitudinally. METHODS:From 503 subjects with SVD, baseline and follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was available for 264 participants (follow-up 8.7±0.2 years). Baseline serum-NfL was measured by an ultrasensitive single-molecule-assay. SVD-MRI-markers including white matter hyperintensity (WMH)-volume, mean diffusivity (MD), lacunes, and microbleeds were assessed at both timepoints. Cognitive testing was performed in 336 participants, including SVD-related domains as well as global cognition and memory. Associations with NfL were assessed using linear regression analyses and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). RESULTS:Serum-NfL was associated with baseline WMH-volume, MD-values and presence of lacunes and microbleeds. SVD-related MRI- and cognitive measures showed progression during follow-up. NfL-levels were associated with future MRI-markers of SVD, including WMH, MD and lacunes. For the latter, this association was independent of baseline lacunes. Furthermore, NfL was associated with incident lacunes during follow-up (P=0.040). NfL-levels were associated with future SVD-related cognitive impairment (processing speed: ?=-0.159; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.242 to -0.068; P=0.001; executive function ?=-0.095; 95% CI, -0.170 to -0.007; P=0.033), adjusted for age, sex, education, and depression. Dementia-risk increased with higher NfL-levels (hazard ratio, 5.0; 95% CI, 2.6 to 9.4; P<0.001), however not after adjusting for age. CONCLUSIONS:Longitudinally, serum-NfL is associated with markers of SVD, especially with incident lacunes, and future cognitive impairment affecting various domains. NfL may potentially serve as an additional marker for disease monitoring and outcome in SVD, potentially capturing both vascular and neurodegenerative processes in the elderly.
Project description:Detecting treatment efficacy using cognitive change in trials of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) has been challenging, making the use of surrogate markers such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) attractive. We determined the sensitivity of MRI to change in SVD and used this information to calculate sample size estimates for a clinical trial. Data from the prospective SCANS (St George’s Cognition and Neuroimaging in Stroke) study of patients with symptomatic lacunar stroke and confluent leukoaraiosis was used (n?=?121). Ninety-nine subjects returned at one or more time points. Multimodal MRI and neuropsychologic testing was performed annually over 3 years. We evaluated the change in brain volume, T2 white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume, lacunes, and white matter damage on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Over 3 years, change was detectable in all MRI markers but not in cognitive measures. WMH volume and DTI parameters were most sensitive to change and therefore had the smallest sample size estimates. MRI markers, particularly WMH volume and DTI parameters, are more sensitive to SVD progression over short time periods than cognition. These markers could significantly reduce the size of trials to screen treatments for efficacy in SVD, although further validation from longitudinal and intervention studies is required.
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:Small subcortical infarcts (SSI) frequently coexist with brain white matter hyperintensity (WMH) lesions. We sought to determine whether preexisting WMH burden relates to SSI volume, SSI etiology, and 90-day functional outcome.We retrospectively studied 80 consecutive patients with acute SSI. Infarct volume was determined on diffusion weighted imaging, and WMH burden was graded on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery sequences according to the Fazekas scale. SSI etiology was categorized as small vessel disease (SVD) vs non-SVD related. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were constructed to determine whether WMH burden was independently associated with the SSI volume and a poor 90-day outcome (modified Rankin scale [mRS] score >2), respectively.In unadjusted analyses, patients with non-SVD-related SSI were older (P=.002) and more frequently had multiple infarcts (P<.001) than patients with SVD-related SSI. In the fully adjusted model, WMH severity (Coefficient 0.07; 95%-CI 0.029-0.117; P=.002) but not SSI etiology (P>.1) was independently associated with the SSI volume. On multivariable logistic regression, worse WMH (OR 2.28; 95%-CI 1.04-4.99; P=.040), SSI etiology (OR 9.20; 95%-CI 1.04-81.39; P=.046), preadmission mRS (OR 8.96; 95%-CI 2.65-30.27; P<.001), and SSI volume (OR 1.98; 95%-CI 1.14-3.44; P=.016) were associated with a poor 90-day outcome.Greater WMH burden is independently associated with a larger SSI volume and a worse 90-day outcome.
Project description: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:Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) increases stroke risk, but the mechanism is uncertain. This study aimed to determine the association between SLE and features on neuroimaging of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), a risk factor for stroke.Consecutive patients attending a clinic for SLE were recruited. All patients underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging; had blood samples taken for markers of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, cholesterol, and autoantibodies; and underwent cognitive and psychiatric testing. The data were compared with sex- and age-matched healthy controls and patients with minor stroke. Features of SVD were measured, a total SVD score calculated, and associations sought with vascular risk factors, cognition, SLE activity, and disease duration.Fifty-one SLE patients (age: 48.8 years; SD: 14.3 years) had a greater total SVD score compared with healthy controls (1 versus 0; P<0.0001) and stroke patients (1 versus 0; P=0.02). There were higher perivascular spaces and deep white matter hyperintensity scores and more superficial brain atrophy in SLE patients versus healthy controls. Despite fewer vascular risk factors than similarly aged stroke patients, SLE patients had similar or more of some SVD features. The total SVD score was not associated with SLE activity, cognition, disease duration, or any blood measure.In this data set, SLE patients had a high burden of SVD features on magnetic resonance imaging, particularly perivascular spaces. A larger longitudinal study is warranted to determine the causes of SVD features in SLE and clinical implications.
Project description:Musculoskeletal pain is highly prevalent and limits mobility in older adults. A potential mechanism by which pain affects mobility could be through its negative impact on the brain. We examined whether structural integrity of cerebral gray and white matter (WM) mediated the relationship between pain and mobility in community-dwelling older adults.Musculoskeletal pain, gait speed, and neuroimaging data were obtained concurrently from the Health ABC study (mean age = 83/56% female, n = 212). Microstructural gray matter integrity was measured by mean diffusivity (MD), WM microstructure and macrostructure were measured by fractional anisotropy (FA) and WM hyperintensities (WMH), respectively. Regression models were adjusted for gray matter atrophy, age, gender, medication use, and obesity. Bootstrapped mediation methods were used (1,000 bootstrapped samples, 95% confidence intervals).The associations of musculoskeletal pain with WMH (? = .19, p < .05) and FA (? = -.18, p < .05) were robust to adjustment for gender, medication use, age, body mass index (BMI), and brain atrophy. Participants who experienced both knee and back pain had a significantly slower gait speed (~0.11 m/s) than those without knee or back pain (p < .05) independent of gender, medication, age, and BMI. WMH and FA significantly mediated the pain-gait speed relationship. Associations between pain and MD were not significant, and MD did not modify the association between pain and gait speed.Cerebral WM integrity may contribute to the detrimental effects of musculoskeletal pain on mobility, although pre-existing WM integrity may also simultaneously amplify pain and decrease mobility. Future studies are needed to further understand whether successful pain management may significantly improve both brain health and mobility.