Imaging features of small vessel disease in cerebral amyloid angiopathy among patients with Alzheimer's disease

Nandakumar Nagaraja, Steven DeKosky, Ranjan Duara, Lan Kong, Wei en Wang, David Vaillancourt, Mehmet Albayram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Cerebral small vessel disease biomarkers including white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, and enlarged perivascular spaces (ePVS) are under investigation to identify those specific to cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). In subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD), we assessed characteristic features and amounts of WMH, lacunes, and ePVS in four CAA categories (no, mild, moderate and severe CAA) and correlated these with Clinical Dementia Rating sum of boxes (CDRsb) score, ApoE genotype, and neuropathological changes at autopsy. Methods: The study included patients with a clinical diagnosis of dementia due to AD and neuropathological confirmation of AD and CAA in the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) database. The WMH, lacunes, and ePVS were evaluated using semi-quantitative scales. Statistical analyses compared the WMH, lacunes, and ePVS values in the four CAA groups with vascular risk factors and AD severity treated as covariates, and to correlate the imaging features with CDRsb score, ApoE genotype, and neuropathological findings. Results: The study consisted of 232 patients, of which 222 patients had FLAIR data available and 105 patients had T2-MRI. Occipital predominant WMH were significantly associated with the presence of CAA (p = 0.007). Among the CAA groups, occipital predominant WMH was associated with severe CAA (β = 1.22, p = 0.0001) compared with no CAA. Occipital predominant WMH were not associated with the CDRsb score performed at baseline (p = 0.68) or at follow-up 2–4 years after the MRI (p = 0.92). There was no significant difference in high grade ePVS in the basal ganglia (p = 0.63) and centrum semiovale (p = 0.95) among the four CAA groups. The WMH and ePVS on imaging did not correlate with the number of ApoE ε4 alleles but the WMH (periventricular and deep) correlated with the presence of infarcts, lacunes and microinfarcts on neuropathology. Conclusion: Among patients with AD, occipital predominant WMH is more likely to be found in patients with severe CAA than in those without CAA. The high-grade ePVS in centrum semiovale were common in all AD patients regardless of CAA severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103437
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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