publication

Microstructure of Strategic White Matter Tracts and Cognition in Memory Clinic Patients with Vascular Brain Injury

Biesbroek, J Matthijs, Leemans, Alexander, den Bakker, Hanna, Duering, Marco, Gesierich, Benno, Koek, Huiberdina L, van den Berg, Esther, Postma, Albert, Biessels, Geert Jan, on behalf of the Utrecht Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) study group

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000485376

Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 44 (5-6), p. 268-282

Abstract

BACKGROUND: White matter injury is an important factor for cognitive impairment in memory clinic patients. We determined the added value of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of strategic white matter tracts in explaining variance in cognition in memory clinic patients with vascular brain injury.

METHODS: We included 159 patients. Conventional MRI markers (white matter hyperintensity volume, lacunes, nonlacunar infarcts, brain atrophy, and microbleeds), and fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity (MD) of the whole brain white matter and of 18 white matter tracts were related to cognition using linear regression and Bayesian network analysis.

RESULTS: On top of all conventional MRI markers combined, MD of the whole brain white matter explained an additional 3.4% (p = 0.014), 7.8% (p < 0.001), and 1.2% (p = 0.119) variance in executive functioning, speed, and memory, respectively. The Bayesian analyses of regional DTI measures identified strategic tracts for executive functioning (right superior longitudinal fasciculus), speed (left corticospinal tract), and memory (left uncinate fasciculus). MD within these tracts explained an additional 3.4% (p = 0.012), 3.8% (p = 0.007), and 2.1% (p = 0.041) variance in executive functioning, speed, and memory, respectively, on top of all conventional MRI and global DTI markers combined.

CONCLUSION: In memory clinic patients with vascular brain injury, DTI of strategic white matter tracts has a significant added value in explaining variance in cognitive functioning.