White matter hyperintensity distribution differences in aging and neurodegenerative disease cohorts.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Neuroimage Clin, Volume 36, p.103204 (2022)


Aged, Aging, Alzheimer Disease, Canada, Cognitive Dysfunction, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Frontotemporal Dementia, Humans, Leukoaraiosis, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Parkinson Disease, White Matter


<p><b>INTRODUCTION: </b>White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are common magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in the aging population in general, as well as in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. They are known to exacerbate the cognitive deficits and worsen the clinical outcomes in the patients. However, it is not well-understood whether there are disease-specific differences in prevalence and distribution of WMHs in different neurodegenerative disorders.</p><p><b>METHODS: </b>Data included 976 participants with cross-sectional T1-weighted and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRIs from the Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) with eleven distinct diagnostic groups: cognitively intact elderly (CIE), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), vascular MCI (V-MCI), Alzheimer's dementia (AD), vascular AD (V-AD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Lewy body dementia (LBD), cognitively intact elderly with Parkinson's disease (PD-CIE), cognitively impaired Parkinson's disease (PD-CI), and mixed dementias. WMHs were segmented using a previously validated automated technique. WMH volumes in each lobe and hemisphere were compared against matched CIE individuals, as well as each other, and between men and women.</p><p><b>RESULTS: </b>All cognitively impaired diagnostic groups had significantly greater overall WMH volumes than the CIE group. Vascular groups (i.e. V-MCI, V-AD, and mixed dementia) had significantly greater WMH volumes than all other groups, except for FTD, which also had significantly greater WMH volumes than all non-vascular groups. Women tended to have lower WMH burden than men in most groups and regions, controlling for age. The left frontal lobe tended to have a lower WMH burden than the right in all groups. In contrast, the right occipital lobe tended to have greater WMH volumes than the left.</p><p><b>CONCLUSIONS: </b>There were distinct differences in WMH prevalence and distribution across diagnostic groups, sexes, and in terms of asymmetry. WMH burden was significantly greater in all neurodegenerative dementia groups, likely encompassing areas exclusively impacted by neurodegeneration as well as areas related to cerebrovascular disease pathology.</p>

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