The pattern of cognitive performance in CADASIL: A monogenic condition leading to subcortical ischemic vascular dementia
ABSTRACT Subcortical ischemic vascular lesions, which are closely related to small vessel disease, are a common substrate of cognitive impairment and dementia. Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is a monogenic variant of small vessel disease resulting from mutations in NOTCH3. Mutation carriers almost invariably develop cognitive deficits and eventually dementia. The current study describes the profile of cognitive abnormalities in CADASIL subjects.
A cross-sectional study of 65 mutation carriers (mean age=47.3 years, SD=10.5) and 30 matched comparison subjects (mean age=47.2 years, SD=14.0) was conducted. Participants underwent a series of assessments that included ratings of global cognition, the cognitive portion of the Vascular Dementia Assessment Scale, and specific tests of executive function and attention with measures of processing speed and error monitoring.
CADASIL subjects had pronounced impairments of the timed measures (Stroop II and III, Trail Making Test, symbol digit, digit cancellation). Measures of error monitoring (Stroop III, Trail Making Test, symbol digit, maze task) were also significantly affected but to a lesser extent. Prominent deficits further included verbal fluency and ideational praxis. Recall, orientation, and receptive language skills were largely preserved. Subgroup analyses indicated a similar profile in subjects with early and advanced impairment of global cognitive performance.
The findings highlight processing speed as the most substantial area of cognitive impairment in CADASIL subjects, with less pronounced yet significant deficits in other aspects of executive performance and attention. This profile of cognitive impairment is present at an early stage and enables the construction of targeted test batteries for clinical trials. It is hypothesized that the profile of dysfunction described here represents the core of the cognitive syndrome associated with small vessel disease and subcortical ischemic vascular lesions.
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ABSTRACT: Slowed processing speed is common in elderly subjects and frequently related to cerebral small vessel disease. Previous studies have demonstrated associations between processing speed and subcortical ischemic lesions as well as cortical alterations but the precise functional-anatomical relationships remain poorly understood. Here we assessed the impact of both cortical and subcortical changes on processing speed by measuring regional cortical thickness and regional lesion volumes within distinct white-matter tracts. To limit confounding effects from age-related pathologies we studied patients with CADASIL, a genetic small vessel disease. General linear model analysis revealed significant associations between cortical thickness in the medial frontal and occipito-temporal cortex and processing speed. Bayesian network analysis showed a robust conditional dependency between the volume of lacunar lesions in the left anterior thalamic radiation and cortical thickness of the left medial frontal cortex, and between thickness of the left medial frontal cortex and processing speed, whereas there was no direct dependency between lesion volumes in the left anterior thalamic radiation and processing speed. Our results suggest that the medial frontal cortex has an intermediate position between lacunar lesions in the anterior thalamic radiation and deficits in processing speed. In contrast, we did not observe such a relationship for the occipito-temporal region. These findings reinforce the key role of frontal-subcortical circuits in cognitive impairment resulting from cerebral small vessel disease.12/2013; 2:854-61. DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2013.06.006
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ABSTRACT: Patients with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) commonly exhibit deficits in processing speed. This has been attributed to a disruption of frontal subcortical neuronal circuits by ischemic lesions, but the exact mechanisms and underlying anatomical structures are poorly understood. We set out to identify a strategic brain network for processing speed by applying graph-based data-mining techniques to MRI lesion maps from patients with small vessel disease. We studied 235 patients with CADASIL, a genetic small vessel disease causing pure VCI. Using a probabilistic atlas in standard space we first determined the regional volumes of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and lacunar lesions (LL) within major white matter tracts. Conditional dependencies between the regional lesion volumes and processing speed were then examined using Bayesian network analysis. Exploratory analysis identified a network of five imaging variables as the best determinant of processing speed. The network included LL in the left anterior thalamic radiation and the left cingulum as well as WMH in the left forceps minor, the left parahippocampal white matter and the left corticospinal tract. Together these variables explained 34% of the total variance in the processing speed score. Structural equation modeling confirmed the findings obtained from the Bayesian models. In summary, using graph-based models we identified a strategic brain network having the highest predictive value for processing speed in our cohort of patients with pure small vessel disease. Our findings confirm and extend previous results showing a role of frontal-subcortical neuronal circuits, in particular dorsolateral prefrontal and cingulate circuits, in VCI.NeuroImage 11/2012; 66. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.084 · 6.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cerebral microangiopathy (CMA) has been associated with executive dysfunction and fronto-parietal neural network disruption. Advances in magnetic resonance imaging allow more detailed analyses of gray (e.g., voxel-based morphometry-VBM) and white matter (e.g., diffusion tensor imaging-DTI) than traditional visual rating scales. The current study investigated patients with early CMA and healthy control subjects with all three approaches. Neuropsychological assessment focused on executive functions, the cognitive domain most discussed in CMA. The DTI and age-related white matter changes rating scales revealed convergent results showing widespread white matter changes in early CMA. Correlations were found in frontal and parietal areas exclusively with speeded, but not with speed-corrected executive measures. The VBM analyses showed reduced gray matter in frontal areas. All three approaches confirmed the hypothesized fronto-parietal network disruption in early CMA. Innovative methods (DTI) converged with results from conventional methods (visual rating) while allowing greater spatial and tissue accuracy. They are thus valid additions to the analysis of neural correlates of cognitive dysfunction. We found a clear distinction between speeded and nonspeeded executive measures in relationship to imaging parameters. Cognitive slowing is related to disease severity in early CMA and therefore important for early diagnostics.Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism: official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 07/2012; 32(10):1869-78. DOI:10.1038/jcbfm.2012.96 · 5.34 Impact Factor