Cardiovascular disease and brain health: Focus on white matter hyperintensities.
ABSTRACT: Diseases affecting the brain contribute to a substantial proportion of morbidity and mortality in the general population. Conditions such as stroke, dementia and cognitive impairment have a prominent impact on global public health. Despite the heterogeneous clinical manifestations of these conditions and their diverse prognostic implications, current evidence supports a role for cardiovascular disease as a common pathophysiological ground. Brain white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are patchy white matter signal hyperintensity on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging sequences commonly found in elderly individuals. WMH appear to have a vascular pathogenesis and have been shown to confer an increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline. Indeed, they were proposed as a marker for central nervous system frailty. Cardiovascular diseases seem to play a key role in the etiology of WMH. Carotid atherosclerosis and atrial fibrillation were shown to be associated with higher WMH burden, while adequate blood pressure control has been reported reducing WMH progression. Aim of the present work is to review the available evidence linking WMH to cardiovascular disease, highlighting the complex interplay between cerebral and cardiovascular health.
Project description:BACKGROUND:White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are an important biomarker of cumulative vascular brain injury and have been associated with cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia, stroke, depression, and gait impairments. The pathogenesis of white matter lesions however, remains uncertain. The characterization of gene expression profiles associated with WMH might help uncover molecular mechanisms underlying WMH. METHODS:We performed a transcriptome-wide association study of gene expression profiles with WMH in 3248 participants from the Framingham Heart Study using the Affymetrix Human Exon 1.0 ST Array. RESULTS:We identified 13 genes that were significantly associated with WMH (FDR < 0.05) after adjusting for age, sex and blood cell components. Many of these genes are involved in inflammation-related pathways. CONCLUSION:Thirteen genes were significantly associated with WMH. Our study confirms the hypothesis that inflammation might be an important factor contributing to white matter lesions. Future work is needed to explore if these gene products might serve as potential therapeutic targets.
Project description:White matter hyperintensities proliferate as the brain ages and are associated with increased risk for cognitive decline as well as Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. As such, white matter hyperintensities have been targeted as a surrogate biomarker in intervention trials with older adults. However, it is unclear at what stage of aging white matter hyperintensities begin to relate to cognition and if they may be a viable target for early prevention. In the Dunedin Study, a population-representative cohort followed since birth, we measured white matter hyperintensities in 843 45-year-old participants using T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and we assessed cognitive decline from childhood to midlife. We found that white matter hyperintensities were common at age 45 and that white matter hyperintensity volume was modestly associated with both lower childhood (ß = -0.08, P?=?0.013) and adult IQ (ß=-0.15, P?<?0.001). Moreover, white matter hyperintensity volume was associated with greater cognitive decline from childhood to midlife (ß=-0.09, P?<?0.001). Our results demonstrate that a link between white matter hyperintensities and early signs of cognitive decline is detectable decades before clinical symptoms of dementia emerge. Thus, white matter hyperintensities may be a useful surrogate biomarker for identifying individuals in midlife at risk for future accelerated cognitive decline and selecting participants for dementia prevention trials.
Project description:Perivascular spaces are associated with MRI markers of cerebral small vessel disease, including white matter hyperintensities. Although perivascular spaces are considered to be an early MRI marker of cerebral small vessel disease, it is unknown whether they are associated with further progression of MRI markers, especially white matter hyperintensities. We determined the association between perivascular spaces and progression of white matter hyperintensities after 2-year follow-up in lacunar stroke patients.In 118 lacunar stroke patients we obtained brain MRI and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements at baseline, and a follow-up brain MRI 2 years later. We visually graded perivascular spaces and white matter hyperintensities at baseline. Progression of white matter hyperintensities was assessed using a visual white matter hyperintensity change scale. Associations with white matter hyperintensity progression were tested with binary logistic regression analysis.Extensive basal ganglia perivascular spaces were associated with progression of white matter hyperintensities (OR 4.29; 95% CI: 1.28-14.32; p<0.05), after adjustment for age, gender, 24-hour blood pressure and vascular risk factors. This association lost significance after additional adjustment for baseline white matter hyperintensities. Centrum semiovale perivascular spaces were not associated with progression of white matter hyperintensities.Our study shows that extensive basal ganglia perivascular spaces are associated with progression of white matter hyperintensities in cerebral small vessel disease. However, this association was not independent of baseline white matter hyperintensities. Therefore, presence of white matter hyperintensities at baseline remains an important determinant of further progression of white matter hyperintensities in cerebral small vessel disease.
Project description:Although white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are associated with the risk for Alzheimer disease, it is unknown whether they represent an independent source of impairment or interact with known markers of disease.To examine the degree to which WMHs predict aggressive cognitive decline among individuals with mild cognitive impairment, either independently or by modifying the effects of entorhinal cortex volume (ECV), a marker of Alzheimer disease-related neurodegeneration.The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is a longitudinal study with 6-month follow-up visits. Three hundred thirty-two participants (mean [SD] age, 74.6 [7.4] years; 118 women) of a total of 374 participants diagnosed as having mild cognitive impairment were included. Participants were excluded if they did not have longitudinal data, apolipoprotein E genotype data, or had evidence of supratentorial infarct.A decline in Mini-Mental State Examination score of 3 points over 6 months or 6 points over 1 year between consecutive visits was defined as aggressive decline. White matter hyperintensity volume and ECV were entered as predictors in Cox proportional hazards models and Wilcoxon-Breslow tests to examine their impact on this outcome, adjusting for sex, age, education, and apolipoprotein E status.Greater WMH volume at baseline, apolipoprotein E ?4 status, and smaller ECV at baseline were associated with an increased risk for aggressive decline (hazard ratio [HR], 1.23; 95% CI, 1.05-1.43; P?=?.01 for WMH volume; HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.09-2.05; P?=?.04 for apolipoprotein E ?4 status; HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.55-0.79; P?<?.001 for ECV). White matter hyperintensity volume modified the effect of ECV on aggressive decline risk: individuals with high ECV and low WMH were at particularly low likelihood of decline (?2?=?15, P?=?.001). Participants with Mini-Mental State Examination scores that declined by 3 or more points over 6 months or 6 or more points over 12 months were more likely to have converted to Alzheimer disease by the end of the follow-up period (?2?=?82, P?<?.001).White matter hyperintensity burden and ECV predict rapid cognitive decline among individuals with mild cognitive impairment both additively and multiplicatively.
Project description:OBJECTIVES: To review the evidence for an association of white matter hyperintensities with risk of stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, and death. DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis. DATA SOURCES: PubMed from 1966 to 23 November 2009. STUDY SELECTION: Prospective longitudinal studies that used magnetic resonance imaging and assessed the impact of white matter hyperintensities on risk of incident stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, and death, and, for the meta-analysis, studies that provided risk estimates for a categorical measure of white matter hyperintensities, assessing the impact of these lesions on risk of stroke, dementia, and death. DATA EXTRACTION: Population studied, duration of follow-up, method used to measure white matter hyperintensities, definition of the outcome, and measure of the association of white matter hyperintensities with the outcome. DATA SYNTHESIS: 46 longitudinal studies evaluated the association of white matter hyperintensities with risk of stroke (n=12), cognitive decline (n=19), dementia (n=17), and death (n=10). 22 studies could be included in a meta-analysis (nine of stroke, nine of dementia, eight of death). White matter hyperintensities were associated with an increased risk of stroke (hazard ratio 3.3, 95% confidence interval 2.6 to 4.4), dementia (1.9, 1.3 to 2.8), and death (2.0, 1.6 to 2.7). An association of white matter hyperintensities with a faster decline in global cognitive performance, executive function, and processing speed was also suggested. CONCLUSION: White matter hyperintensities predict an increased risk of stroke, dementia, and death. Therefore white matter hyperintensities indicate an increased risk of cerebrovascular events when identified as part of diagnostic investigations, and support their use as an intermediate marker in a research setting. Their discovery should prompt detailed screening for risk factors of stroke and dementia.
Project description:White-matter hyperintensities have been associated with both schizophrenia and mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, but results are inconsistent across studies.To examine whether white-matter hyperintensities are a vulnerability marker for psychosis or are specifically associated with bipolar disorder.T(2)-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired in 129 individuals with first-episode psychosis (either affective or non-affective psychoses) and 102 controls who were randomly selected from the same geographical areas. Visual white-matter hyperintensity ratings were used for group and subgroup comparisons.There were no statistically significant between-group differences in white-matter hyperintensity frequency or severity scores. No significant correlations were found between white-matter hyperintensity scores and duration of illness, duration of untreated psychosis, or severity of psychotic, manic or depressive symptoms.White-matter hyperintensities are not associated with vulnerability to psychosis in general, or specifically with affective psychoses. Further, first-episode psychosis investigations using more quantitative methods are warranted to confirm these findings.
Project description:Cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are a consequence of cerebral small vessel disease. Statins have been shown to reduce recurrent stroke among patients with various stroke subtypes, including lacunar stroke, which also arises from small vessel disease. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that prestroke statin use would reduce the progression of WMH and/or cognitive decline among stroke patients with confluent WMH. Patients (n?=?100) were participants of the VITAmins To Prevent Stroke magnetic resonance imaging substudy. All patients had confluent WMH on magnetic resonance imaging at baseline. Eighty-one patients completed the 2-year follow-up. We assessed general cognition and executive function using the mini-mental state examination and Mattis dementia rating scale-initiation/perseveration subscale, respectively. We compared the change in volume of WMH and cognition between prestroke statin use and prestroke nonstatin use groups. We also evaluated the effects of prestroke statin use on incident lacunes and microbleeds. The prestroke statin use group (n?=?51) had less WMH volume progression (1.54?±?4.52 cm(3) vs 5.01?±?6.00 cm(3), p?=?0.02) compared with the prestroke nonstatin use group (n?=?30). Multivariate linear regression modeling identified prestroke statin use as an independent predictor of WMH progression (??=?-0.31, p?=?0.008). Prestroke statin use was also associated with less decline (Mattis dementia rating scale-initiation/perseveration subscale; ??=?0.47, p?=?0.001). No association was observed with changes in mini-mental state examination scores. There were no between group differences on incident lacunes or incident microbleeds. Prestroke statin use may reduce WMH progression and decline in executive function in stroke patients with confluent WMH.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Brain white matter hyperintensities (WMH) have been associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive decline, and dementia. WMH can be a manifestation of small vessel disease, although the total microvascular contribution to multifactorial WMH pathophysiology remains unknown. We hypothesized a possible relationship between carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), an ultrasound imaging marker of subclinical vascular disease, and brain WMH in a multiethnic, elderly stroke-free community-based cohort. METHODS:We evaluated the relationship between cIMT and WMH in the population-based Northern Manhattan Study, among individuals free of stroke. We used linear regression to examine the association of continuous measures of cIMT with quantitatively derived WMH volume, as a proportion of cranial volume, measured from fluid-attenuaded inversion recovery magnetic resonance imaging while adjusting for sociodemographics, lifestyle, and vascular risk factors. RESULTS:In a cohort of 1229 participants (mean age, 71±9 years; 60% women, 15% White; 18% Black; 65% Hispanics), the mean cIMT was 0.71±0.08 mm and the median log-transformed WMH volume was 0.36 (interquartile range, 0.21-0.76). In a multivariable model, larger cIMT was significantly associated with greater WMH volume (?=0.046 per SD cIMT; P=0.04). Age and race/ethnicity were significant modifiers (P for age, 0.02; and P for race/ethnicity, 0.04). cIMT was associated with WMH volume in participants 70 years or older (?=0.088 per SD cIMT; P=0.01) and among Hispanics (?=0.084 per SD cIMT; P=0.003). CONCLUSIONS:Larger cIMT was associated with greater burden of cerebral WM lesions independently of demographics and traditional vascular risk factors, particularly among elderly and Hispanic participants, who are at high risk for stroke and cognitive decline.
Project description:White matter hyperintensities of presumed vascular origin (WMH) are a prevalent form of cerebral small-vessel disease and an important risk factor for post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. Despite this prevalence, it is not well understood how WMH contributes to post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. Preliminary findings suggest that increasing WMH volume is associated with total hippocampal volume in chronic stroke patients. The hippocampus, however, is a complex structure with distinct subfields that have varying roles in the function of the hippocampal circuitry and unique anatomical projections to different brain regions. For these reasons, an investigation into the relationship between WMH and hippocampal subfield volume may further delineate how WMH predispose to post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. In a prospective study of acute ischemic stroke patients with moderate/severe WMH burden, we assessed the relationship between quantitative WMH burden and hippocampal subfield volumes. Patients underwent a 3T MRI brain within 2-5 days of stroke onset. Total WMH volume was calculated in a semi-automated manner. Mean cortical thickness and hippocampal volumes were measured in the contralesional hemisphere. Total and subfield hippocampal volumes were measured using an automated, high-resolution, ex vivo computational atlas. Linear regression analyses were performed for predictors of total and subfield hippocampal volumes. Forty patients with acute ischemic stroke and moderate/severe white matter hyperintensity burden were included in this analysis. Median WMH volume was 9.0 cm3. Adjusting for intracranial volume and stroke laterality, age (? = -3.7, P < 0.001), hypertension (? = -44.7, P = 0.04), WMH volume (? = -0.89, P = 0.049), and mean cortical thickness (? = 286.2, P = 0.006) were associated with total hippocampal volume. In multivariable analysis, age (? = -3.3, P < 0.001) and cortical thickness (? = 205.2, P = 0.028) remained independently associated with total hippocampal volume. In linear regression for predictors of hippocampal subfield volume, increasing WMH volume was associated with decreased hippocampal-amygdala transition area volume (? = -0.04, P = 0.001). These finding suggest that in ischemic stroke patients, increased WMH burden is associated with selective hippocampal subfield degeneration in the hippocampal-amygdala transition area.
Project description:White matter hyperintensities (WMH) have been extensively associated with cognitive impairment and reductions in gray matter volume (GMv) independently. This study explored whether WMH lesion volume mediates the relationship between cerebral patterns of GMv and cognition in 521 (mean age 57.7?years) cognitively unimpaired middle-aged individuals. Episodic memory (EM) was measured with the Memory Binding Test and executive functions (EF) using five WAIS-IV subtests. WMH were automatically determined from T2 and FLAIR sequences and characterized using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) parameters. WMH volume was entered as a mediator in a voxel-wise mediation analysis relating GMv and cognitive performance (with both EM and EF composites and the individual tests independently). The mediation model was corrected by age, sex, education, number of Apolipoprotein E (APOE)-?4 alleles and total intracranial volume. We found that even at very low levels of WMH burden in the cohort (median volume of 3.2 mL), higher WMH lesion volume was significantly associated with a widespread pattern of lower GMv in temporal, frontal, and cerebellar areas. WMH mediated the relationship between GMv and EF, mainly driven by processing speed, but not EM. DWI parameters in these lesions were compatible with incipient demyelination and axonal loss. These findings lead to the reflection on the relevance of the control of cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged individuals as a valuable preventive strategy to reduce or delay cognitive decline.