[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last 20 years, evidence about the clinical correlates of cerebral white matter changes (WMC; also called leukoaraiosis) has been accumulating. WMC are now listed among the neuroimaging expressions of cerebral small-vessel disease and are no longer considered an innocuous finding because they are associated, in cross-sectional surveys, with various disturbances and, in follow-up studies, with poor prognosis. The Leukoaraiosis And DISability (LADIS) study has contributed substantially to this body of knowledge. LADIS is a European multicenter collaboration that was started in 2001 with the aim of assessing the independent role of WMC in predicting disability in subjects aged 65-84. The main results of the LADIS study have been released in 2009 with the demonstration that severe WMC more than double the risk of transition from an autonomous to a dependent status after 3 years of follow-up. The LADIS study has also contributed more focused substudies assessing the possible role of WMC in the decline of cognitive and motor performances, depressive symptoms associated with aging and cerebrovascular diseases, urinary disturbances, and also the role of other brain lesions (lacunar infarcts, cerebral atrophy, and corpus callosum morphology). The LADIS study provides a good example of harmonization of instruments (MRI protocol, clinical, neuropsychological, and functional scales) within an international collaboration. Currently, the LADIS study is providing data about the natural history of WMC. In this paper, we review the background and the main results of the LADIS study. This review puts forward some considerations for future studies in the field.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The influence of organic brain changes on the development of depression in the elderly is uncertain. Cross-sectional studies, most often from clinical samples, report associations with brain atrophy and cerebrovascular disease, while longitudinal population studies have given mixed results. Our aim was to investigate whether cortical atrophy and white matter lesions (WMLs) on computed tomography (CT) predict occurrence of depression in the elderly. This is a prospective population-based study with 5-year follow-up. The baseline sample included 525 elderly subjects, aged 70-86 years, without dementia or major depression, with a score on the Mini-Mental State Examination above 25, and without dementia at follow-up. Cortical atrophy and WMLs were evaluated at baseline using CT. The main outcome measure was development of major or minor depression at follow-up according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, as evaluated using neuropsychiatric examinations and hospital discharge registers. Logistic regression was used to estimate risk. Over the period of 5 years, 20 individuals developed major and 63 minor depression. Presence of temporal lobe atrophy (odds ratio (OR)=2.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04-7.62) and moderate-to-severe WMLs (OR=3.21, 95% CI 1.00-10.26) independently predicted major, but not minor, depression after controlling for various confounders. Other brain changes did not predict occurrence of depression. Our findings suggest that temporal lobe atrophy and WMLs represent relatively independent and complementary pathways to major depression in the elderly. This may have implications for prevention, as both neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular disease have been related to preventable factors.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 09/2010; 35(13):2638-45. · 6.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We aimed to study if age-related white matter changes (WMC) and vascular risk factors were predictors of cognitive decline in elderly subjects with WMC living independently.
The Leukoaraiosis and Disability prospective multinational European study (LADIS) evaluates the impact of WMC on the transition of independent elderly subjects into disability. Independent elderly were enrolled due to the presence of WMC. Subjects were evaluated yearly during 3 years with a comprehensive clinical protocol and a neuropsychological battery. Additionally, dementia, subtypes of dementia, and cognitive decline without dementia were classified according to usual clinical criteria. MRI was performed at entry and at the end of the study.
A total of 639 subjects were included (74.1 +/- 5 years, 55% women, 9.6 +/- 3.8 years of schooling). At end of follow-up, 90 patients had dementia and 147 had cognitive impairment no dementia. Using Cox regression analysis, WMC severity independently predicted cognitive decline (dementia and not dementia), independently of age, education, and medial temporal atrophy (MTA). Diabetes at baseline was the only vascular risk factor that independently predicted cognitive decline during follow-up, controlling for age, education, WMC severity, and temporal atrophy. Considering subtypes of dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD) was predicted only by MTA, while vascular dementia was predicted by previous stroke, WMC severity, and MTA.
WMC severity and diabetes are independent predictors of cognitive decline in an initially nondisabled elderly population. Vascular dementia is predicted by previous stroke and WMC, while AD is predicted only by MTA.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The term cerebral small vessel disease refers to a group of pathological processes with various aetiologies that affect the small arteries, arterioles, venules, and capillaries of the brain. Age-related and hypertension-related small vessel diseases and cerebral amyloid angiopathy are the most common forms. The consequences of small vessel disease on the brain parenchyma are mainly lesions located in the subcortical structures such as lacunar infarcts, white matter lesions, large haemorrhages, and microbleeds. Because lacunar infarcts and white matter lesions are easily detected by neuroimaging, whereas small vessels are not, the term small vessel disease is frequently used to describe the parenchyma lesions rather than the underlying small vessel alterations. This classification, however, restricts the definition of small vessel disease to ischaemic lesions and might be misleading. Small vessel disease has an important role in cerebrovascular disease and is a leading cause of cognitive decline and functional loss in the elderly. Small vessel disease should be a main target for preventive and treatment strategies, but all types of presentation and complications should be taken into account.
The Lancet Neurology 07/2010; 9(7):689-701. · 23.92 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: White matter changes (WMC) are related to cognitive deficits and dementia. Our aim was to determine the extent to which the performance in neuropsychological tests would be able to predict the clinical diagnosis of dementia.
The LADIS (Leukoaraiosis and Disability) is a prospective study that evaluates the impact of WMC on the transition of independent elderly to disability. The subjects were evaluated at baseline and yearly during 3 years with a comprehensive clinical, functional and neuropsychological protocol. At each visit, dementia was classified according to clinical criteria. The performance in the neuropsychological batteries was compared according to the clinical diagnosis of dementia.
From the initially enrolled 639 subjects, 480 were evaluated at year 3. Dementia was diagnosed in 90 participants. The demented subjects had worse performance in almost all the baseline cognitive tests. Using receiver operating characteristic curves, we found that the Vascular Dementia Assessment Scale (VADAS) battery had higher sensitivity and specificity rates (area under the curve = 82%) to identify dementia compared with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale. Worse performance on baseline MMSE (beta = 0.33; p < 0.001) and VADAS (beta = -0.07; p = 0.02) were predictors of dementia (regression analyses).
Performance on the MMSE and the VADAS battery were important predictors of dementia at a 3-year period.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanisms by which leukoariosis impacts on clinical and cognitive functions are not yet fully understood. We hypothesized that ultrastructural abnormalities of the normal-appearing brain tissue (NABT) assessed by diffusion-weighted imaging played a major and independent role.
In addition to a comprehensive clinical, neuropsychologic, and imaging work-up, diffusion-weighted imaging was performed in 340 participants of the multicenter leukoariosis and disability study examining the impact of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on 65- to 85-year old individuals without previous disability. WMH severity was rated according to the Fazekas score. Multivariate regression analysis served to assess correlations of histogram metrics of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) of whole-brain tissue, NABT, and of the mean ADC of WMH with cognitive functions.
Increasing WMH scores were associated with a higher frequency of hypertension, a greater WMH volume, more brain atrophy, worse overall cognitive performance, and changes in ADC. We found strong associations between the peak height of the ADC histogram of whole-brain tissue and NABT with memory performance, executive dysfunction, and speed, which remained after adjustment for WMH lesion volume and brain atrophy and were consistent among centers. No such association was seen with the mean ADC of WMH.
Ultrastructural abnormalities of NABT increase with WMH severity and have a strong and independent effect on cognitive functions, whereas diffusion-weighted imaging metrics within WMH have no direct impact. This should be considered when defining outcome measures for trials that attempt to ameliorate the consequences of WMH progression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is an inherited disease due to cerebral microangiopathy presenting with variable pictures, including stroke, progressive cognitive impairment, and disability. Mechanisms leading from vessel structural changes to parenchymal damage and eventually to clinical expression are not fully understood. Among pathogenic processes, endothelial dysfunction has been hypothesized. Endothelial progenitor cells and circulating progenitor cells (CPCs) derived from bone marrow participate in endothelium structure and function maintenance and contribute to ischemic area revascularization. No data are available about these cells in CADASIL. Our objective in this study was to evaluate endothelial progenitor cells and CPCs role in CADASIL.
Twenty-nine patients with CADASIL and 29 sex- and age-matched control subjects were enrolled. Cells were measured in peripheral blood using flow cytometry. Endothelial progenitor cells were defined as positive for CD34/KDR, CD133/KDR, and CD34/CD133/KDR; and CPCs as positive for CD34, CD133, and CD34/CD133.
Endothelial progenitor cells were significantly lower in patients with CADASIL than in control subjects (CD34/KDR: 0.05 versus 0.1 cells/microL, P=0.005; CD133/KDR: 0.07 versus 0.1 cells/microL, P=0.006; CD34/CD133/KDR: 0.05 versus 0.1 cells/microL, P=0.001). The difference remained significant after adjusting for age, sex, and statin use. CPCs were not significantly lower in CADASIL, but patients with stroke or dementia had significantly reduced CPC levels than patients without (CD34: 1.68 versus 2.95 cells/microL, P=0.007; CD133: 1.40 versus 2.82 cells/microL, P=0.004; CD34/CD133: 1.44 versus 2.75 cells/microL, P=0.004). CPC levels significantly correlated with cognitive and motor performance measures.
We have documented an association between endothelial progenitor cells and CPCs and CADASIL, extending previous data about the presence of endothelial dysfunction in this disease and its potential role in modulating phenotype.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To report the characteristics of patients suspected to have cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) but in whom no NOTCH3 gene pathogenic mutation was found.
Between 2002 and 2008, we performed NOTCH3 gene analysis (exons 2-23) in 81 probands because CADASIL was clinically suspected. A retrospective analysis and comparison of clinical, familial, and neuroimaging features of patients with and without pathogenic mutations was performed.
CADASIL was diagnosed in 16/81 (20%) probands by finding a mutation leading to a cysteine substitution within the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like repeats of the NOTCH3 receptor. In the remaining 65 patients, no pathogenic mutation was found. Some features were significantly (Fisher exact test p < 0.05) more frequent in CADASIL than in NOTCH3-negative patients: history of migraine (73 vs 39%), stroke before the age of 60 among relatives (71 vs 32%), severe leukoencephalopathy (94 vs 62%), white matter changes extended to the anterior temporal lobes (93 vs 45%), external capsule involvement (100 vs 50%), and presence of lacunar infarcts (100 vs 65%). The frequency of vascular risk factors was balanced between the 2 groups. No feature was peculiar to either group.
Although certain clinical and neuroimaging features are more frequent in cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) than in NOTCH3-negative patients, none is pathognomonic. Clinicians should be aware that when diagnosing CADASIL, a number of patients with a cerebral disease phenotypically similar to CADASIL emerge. The genetic profile of these diseases and the full phenotypic difference with CADASIL remain to be further defined.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: White matter lesions (WMLs) caused by small vessel disease are common in elderly people and contribute to cognitive impairment. There are no established biochemical markers for WMLs. We aimed to study the relation between degree of WMLs rated on magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of structural biomarkers associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and subcortical vascular dementia.
Fifty-three non-demented elderly individuals with WMLs were subjected to lumbar puncture. Degree of WMLs was rated using the Fazekas scale. Volumetric assessment of WMLs was performed. CSF samples were analyzed for the 40 and 42 amino acid fragments of amyloid beta, alpha- and beta-cleaved soluble amyloid precursor protein, total tau (T-tau), hyperphosphorylated tau (P-tau(181)), neurofilament light protein (NFL), sulfatide and CSF/Serum-albumin ratio.
Fifteen subjects had mild, 23 had moderate and 15 had severe degree of WMLs. CSF-NFL levels differed between the groups (P < 0.001) and correlated with the volume of WMLs (r = 0.477, P < 0.001). CSF sulfatide concentration displayed similar changes but less strongly. T-tau, P-tau(181) and the different amyloid markers as well as CSF/S-albumin ratio did not differ significantly between the groups.
The association of increased CSF-NFL levels with increasing severity of WMLs in non-demented subjects suggests that NFL is a marker for axonal damage in response to small vessel disease in the brain. This manifestation may be distinct from or earlier than the neurodegenerative process seen in AD, as reflected by the lack of association between WMLs and AD biomarkers.
European Journal of Neurology 10/2009; 17(3):377-82. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growing evidence suggests that cerebral white-matter changes and depressive symptoms are linked directly along the causal pathway. We investigated whether baseline severity of cerebral white-matter changes predict longer-term future depressive outcomes in a community sample of non-disabled older adults.
In the Leukoaraiosis and Disability in the Elderly (LADIS) study, a longitudinal multi-centre pan-European study, 639 older subjects underwent baseline structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical assessments. Baseline severity of white-matter changes was quantified volumetrically. Depressive outcomes were assessed in terms of depressive episodes and depressive symptoms, as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Subjects were clinically reassessed annually for up to 3 years. Regression models were constructed to determine whether baseline severity of white-matter changes predicted future depressive outcomes, after controlling for confounding factors.
Baseline severity of white-matter changes independently predicted depressive symptoms at both 2 (p<0.001) and 3 years (p=0.015). Similarly, white-matter changes predicted incident depression (p=0.02). Over the study period the population became significantly more disabled (p<0.001). When regression models were adjusted to account for the influence of the prospective variable transition to disability, baseline severity of white-matter changes no longer predicted depressive symptoms at 3 years (p=0.09) or incident depression (p=0.08).
Our results support the vascular depression hypothesis and strongly implicate white-matter changes in the pathogenesis of late-life depression. Furthermore, the findings indicate that, over time, part of the relationship between white-matter changes and depression may be mediated by loss of functional activity.
Psychological Medicine 09/2009; 40(4):603-10. · 5.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study aimed to examine the long-term effect of high blood pressure (systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, and mean arterial pressure) on white matter lesions and to study changes in different blood pressure components in relation to white matter lesions. A representative population of women was examined in 1968 and re-examined in 1974, 1980, 1992, and 2000. The presence and severity of white matter lesions on computed tomography were rated by a visual rating scale in 1992 and 2000 in 539 women. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured at all of the examinations. We found that presence and severity of white matter lesions in 1992/2000 were associated with higher diastolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure at each examination but not with systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure. Odds ratios (95% CIs) for the presence of white matter lesions per 10-mm Hg increase in diastolic pressure were 1.4 (1.0 to 1.9) in 1968, 1.3 (1.0 to 1.8) in 1974, 1.4 (1.1 to 1.9) in 1980, and 1.3 (1.0 to 1.6) in 1992 after adjustment for confounders. The presence of white matter lesions was also associated with a 24-year increase in diastolic pressure (>10 mm Hg), systolic pressure (>40 mm Hg), pulse pressure (>24 mm Hg), and mean arterial pressure (>6 mm Hg; odds ratios [95% CIs]: 2.6 [1.3 to 5.1] for diastolic pressure; 2.0 [1.2 to 3.4] for systolic pressure; 1.8 [1.1 to 2.7] for pulse pressure; and 2.2 [1.4 to 3.4] for mean arterial pressure). Our findings suggest that lowering high diastolic blood pressure and preventing large increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures may have a protective effect on white matter lesions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In cerebral small vessel disease, white-matter hyperintensities (WMH) and lacunes are both related to cognition. Still, their respective contribution in older people remains unclear. The purpose of this study is to assess the topographic distribution of lacunes and determine whether it has an impact on cognitive functions in a sample of non-disabled patients with age-related white-matter changes.
Data were drawn from the baseline evaluation of the LADIS (Leucoaraioisis and Disability study) cohort of non-disabled subjects beyond 65 years of age. The neuropsychological evaluation was based on the Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE), a modified Alzheimer Diseases Assessment Scale for global cognitive functions, and compound Z scores for memory, executive functions, speed and motor control. WMH were rated according to the Fazekas scale; the number of lacunes was assessed in the following areas: lobar white matter, putamen/pallidum, thalamus, caudate nucleus, internal/external capsule, infratentorial areas. An analysis of covariance was performed after adjustment for possible confounders.
Among 633 subjects, 47% had at least one lacune (31% at least one within basal ganglia). The presence of lacunes in the thalamus was associated with lower scores of MMSE (beta = -0.61; p = 0.043), and worse compound scores for speed and motor control (beta = -0.25; p = 0.006), executive functions (beta = -0.19; p = 0.022) independently of the cognitive impact of WMH. There was also a significant negative association between the presence of lacunes in putamen/pallidum and the memory compound Z score (beta = -0.13; p = 0.038). By contrast, no significant negative association was found between cognitive parameters and the presence of lacunes in internal capsule, lobar white matter and caudate nucleus.
In non-disabled elderly subjects with leucoaraisosis, the location of lacunes within subcortical grey matter is a determinant of cognitive impairment, independently of the extent of WMH.
Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 03/2009; 80(5):478-83. · 4.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Global age related white matter changes (ARWMC) are associated with progressive gait disturbances and falls, hypothesised to result from interruptions of cortico-subcortical circuits controlling balance, posture and locomotion.
The location of ARWMC in a large cohort of elderly non-disabled individuals with reported falls was analysed, using the cross sectional data of the Leukoaraiosis and Disability (LADIS) study. Detailed anatomical distributions of ARWMC assessed by MRI studies were analysed with respect to falls and balance performance.
The severity of global ARWMC was significantly associated with a history of falls in the year prior to study inclusion (22.2% in the mild, 31.6% in the moderate and 37.3% in the severe ARWMC group according to the Fazekas scale; p = 0.002). Analysing the anatomical distribution of ARWMC, using the semiquantitative Scheltens scale, in multivariate analysis, periventricular (p = 0.006) and frontal deep (p = 0.033) ARWMC were independently associated with falls. Furthermore, logistic regression identified frontal deep (p = 0.003) ARWMC, but not basal ganglia and infratentorial hyperintensities, as significantly associated with balance disturbances.
The association of frontal and periventricular ARWMC with falls supports the hypothesis that interruption of frontal subcortical motor circuits lead to balance disturbances and hence to an increased risk for falls in ARWMC.
Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 03/2009; 80(6):608-13. · 4.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subcortical ischemic vascular disease (SIVD) is a common, but often overlooked cause of vascular cognitive impairment. Diagnostic research criteria for SIVD are based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings including substantial white matter lesions (WML) and multiple lacunar infarcts. Empirical studies validating these imaging criteria are still few. The purpose of the study was to describe the clinical and cognitive characteristics of the MRI-defined SIVD in a mixed sample of functionally independent elderly subjects with WML.
The subjects of the Leukoaraiosis and Disability (LADIS) study, aged 65-84 years, underwent comprehensive clinical and neuropsychological examinations, and brain MRI at the baseline assessment. The subjects meeting the SIVD imaging criteria (n = 89) were compared to the other subjects of the sample (n = 524).
SIVD was associated with lower education, hypertension and, independently, with obesity. The subjects with SIVD had more often motor impairment, a history of falls, and subtle impairment in activities of daily living, but they did not differ for depressive symptoms. SIVD subjects performed significantly inferiorly in tests of global cognitive function, psychomotor speed, attention and executive functions, verbal fluency, and working memory.
In this population of nondisabled older adults with WML, SIVD was related to specific clinical and functional characteristics. Neuropsychological features included psychomotor slowing as well as deficits in attention and executive functions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular cognitive impairment relates to subjects who have a broad spectrum of cognitive deficits,including all forms of mild to severe cognitive impairment associated with and presumed to be caused by cerebrovascular diseases. The latter may be represented by multiple cortical infarcts, multiple subcortical infarcts, or both, silent infarcts, strategic infarcts, small-vessel disease with white matter lesions, and lacunes, all more or less related to stroke. Some authors also include in the category of vascular cognitive impairment Alzheimer's disease patients with evidence of additional vascular lesions. The recognition of early cognitive decline in the primary care setting is an important step as it may allow an early referral of patients to the specialist level, thus permitting a correct diagnosis of the etiologic subtype and the best treatment approach for that particular patient. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the role of the primary care physician in the screening of patients with suspected vascular cognitive decline. Patients in whom screening for cognitive decline could be of clinical relevance are depicted, and a brief overview of investigations and diagnostic tests in the primary care setting is outlined. This specific diagnostic approach includes suggestions on how to take the clinical history, how to perform the physical examination, and on how to choose the appropriate tools for the cognitive and non-cognitive screening; finally, the role of neuroimaging in the primary care setting is illustrated.
Frontiers of neurology and neuroscience 02/2009; 24:66-78.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the impairment in daily living activities in older people with age related changes in white matter according to the severity of these changes.
Observational data collection and follow-up of a cohort of older people undergoing brain magnetic resonance imaging after non-disabling complaints.
11 European centres.
639 non-disabled older patients (mean age 74.1 (SD 5.0), 45.1% men) in whom brain magnetic resonance imaging showed mild, moderate, or severe age related changes in white matter (Fazekas scale). Magnetic resonance imaging assessment also included cerebral infarcts and atrophy.
Transition from no disability (defined as a score of 0 or 1 on the instrumental activities of daily living scale) to disability (score >/=2) or death over three year follow-up. Secondary outcomes were incident dementia and stroke.
Over a mean follow-up period of 2.42 years (SD 0.97, median 2.94 years), information on the main outcome was available for 633 patients. The annual rate of transition or death was 10.5%, 15.1%, and 29.5%, respectively, for patients with mild, moderate, or severe age related changes in white matter (Kaplan-Meier log rank test P<0.001). In a Cox model comparing severe with mild changes and adjusted for clinical factors of functional decline, the risk of transition to disability or death was more than twofold higher (hazard ratio 2.36, 95% confidence interval 1.65 to 3.81). The other predictors were age group, history of atrial fibrillation, and complaint of gait disturbances. The effect of severe changes remained significant independently of baseline degree of atrophy and number of infarcts. Incident stroke and dementia only slightly modified this effect.
The three year results of the LADIS study suggest that in older adults who seek medical attention for non-disabling complaints, severe age related changes in white matter independently and strongly predict rapid global functional decline.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are vascular abnormalities that may cause seizures, headaches, intracerebral hemorrhages, and focal neurological deficits; they can also be clinically silent and may occur as a sporadic or an autosomal dominant condition. Three genes have been identified as causing familial CCM: KRIT1/CCM1, MGC4607/CCM2, and PDCD10/CCM3, mapping, respectively, on chromosomes 7q, 7p, and 3q. This is a report on an Italian family affected by CCM due to a KRIT1 gene mutation on exon 13. The mother suffered from a cerebellar hematoma and was severely disabled; one son had suffered from intractable seizures and underwent surgery for removal of a cavernous angioma, while another son was asymptomatic. Brain MRI showed CCMs in all patients. This report underlines that a familial form of CCM could be suspected when a patient presents with multiple CCMs; neurologists and neurosurgeons should be aware that genetic testing for these forms is available.