28 November 2023

In the November 2023 issue of Brain, the recently published study by Hao Li and Anil Tuladhar, from the Department of Neurology, and their colleagues have made significant progress in understanding cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). Their research, using data from the long-running Radboud University Nijmegen Diffusion Tensor and Magnetic Resonance Cohort (RUN DMC) cohort study, sheds light on cortical abnormalities and their mechanisms in SVD.

The study focuses on the elderly, who often have white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on MRI scans, which is considered as a hallmark of SVD. Previous research has linked WMH to the thinning of the cortex, but the mechanisms behind this association were not fully understood. The RUN DMC team used an advanced, multimodal neuroimaging approach to unravel these complexities.

Their findings are significant: those cortical regions connected to WMH showed cortical thinning, demyelination and iron loss, compared to the cortical regions not connected to WMH. These abnormalities in cortical regions connected to WMH were associated with disruptions in the white matter tracts that connect WMH and cortex. Importantly, the team also discovered that damages in the cortical regions connected to WMH were associated with worse cognitive function.

This research underscores the link between cortical and subcortical abnormalities in older individuals with SVD. It highlights how WMH can lead to cortical damage through the disruptions in white matter tracts, and further affects cognitive abilities. These insights are crucial for understanding SVD's impact on the brain and could guide future interventions to treat cognitive impairments associated with this disease. 


Read the publication here

Li H, Jacob MA, Cai M, et al. Regional cortical thinning, demyelination and iron loss in cerebral small vessel disease. Brain. 2023;146(11):4659-4673. 

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