White matter hyperintensities associated with small vessel disease impair social cognition beside attention and memory.


Age-related white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are a manifestation of white matter damage seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They are related to vascular risk factors and cognitive impairment. This study investigated the cognitive profile at different stages of WMH in a large community-dwelling sample; 849 subjects aged 21 to 79 years were classified on the 4-stage Fazekas scale according to hyperintense lesions seen on individual T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery MRI scans. The evaluation of cognitive functioning included seven domains of cognitive performance and five domains of subjective impairment, as proposed by the DSM-5. For the first time, the impact of age-related WMH on Theory of Mind was investigated. Differences between Fazekas groups were analyzed non-parametrically and effect sizes were computed. Effect sizes revealed a slight overall cognitive decline in Fazekas groups 1 and 2 relative to healthy subjects. Fazekas group 3 presented substantial decline in social cognition, attention and memory, although characterized by a high inter-individual variability. WMH groups reported subjective cognitive decline. We demonstrate that extensive WMH are associated with specific impairment in attention, memory, social cognition, and subjective cognitive performance. The detailed neuropsychological characterization of WMH offers new therapeutic possibilities for those affected by vascular cognitive decline.

PubMed ID: 28685621

Projects: LIFE Adult

Publication type: Journal article

Journal: J Cereb Blood Flow Metab

Human Diseases: Col4a1-related familial vascular leukoencephalopathy

Citation: J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2018 Jun;38(6):996-1009. doi: 10.1177/0271678X17719380. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Date Published: 8th Jul 2017

Registered Mode: by PubMed ID

Authors: J. Kynast, L. Lampe, T. Luck, S. Frisch, K. Arelin, K. T. Hoffmann, M. Loeffler, S. G. Riedel-Heller, A. Villringer, M. L. Schroeter

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Created: 13th May 2019 at 10:06

Last updated: 7th Dec 2021 at 17:58

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