Vascular Risk Factors of Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Persons without Dementia: The Medea 7T Study

Blom, Kim, Koek, Huiberdina L, Zwartbol, Maarten H T, Ghaznawi, Rashid, Kuijf, Hugo J, Witkamp, Theo D, Hendrikse, Jeroen, Biessels, Geert Jan, Geerlings, Mirjam I, UCC-SMART Study Group


Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 77 (3), p. 1223-1239


BACKGROUND: Vascular risk factors have been associated with risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and volume loss of the hippocampus, but the associations with subfields of the hippocampus are understudied. Knowing if vascular risk factors contribute to hippocampal subfield atrophy may improve our understanding of vascular contributions to neurodegenerative diseases.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the associations between age, sex, and vascular risk factors with hippocampal subfields volumes on 7T MRI in older persons without dementia.

METHODS: From the Medea 7T study, 283 participants (67±9 years, 68% men) without dementia had 7T brain MRI and hippocampal subfield segmentation. Subfields were automatically segmented on the 3D T2-weighted 7T images with ASHS software. Using linear mixed models, we estimated adjusted associations of age, sex, and vascular risk factors with z-scores of volumes of the entorhinal cortex (ERC), subiculum (SUB), Cornu Ammonis (CA)1, CA2, CA3, CA4, and dentate gyrus (DG), and tail as multivariate correlated outcomes.

RESULTS: Increasing age was associated with smaller volumes in all subfields, except CA4/DG. Current smoking was associated with smaller ERC and SUB volumes; moderate alcohol use with smaller CA1 and CA4/DG, obesity with smaller volumes of ERC, SUB, CA2, CA3, and tail; and diabetes mellitus with smaller SUB volume. Sex, former smoking, and hypertension were not associated with subfield volumes. When formally tested, no risk factor affected the subfield volumes differentially.

CONCLUSION: Several vascular risk factors were associated with smaller volumes of specific hippocampal subfields. However, no statistical evidence was found that subfields were differentially affected by these risk factors.