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Assessment of Small Vessel Function Using 7T MRI in Patients With Sporadic Cerebral Small Vessel Disease

Publicatiejaar 2024
Gepubliceerd in Neurology
Auteur(s) Hilde Van Den Brink, Stanley Pham, Jeroen C Siero, Tine Arts, Laurien Onkenhout, Hugo Kuijf, Jeroen Hendrikse, Joanna M Wardlaw, Martin Dichgans, Jaco J Zwanenburg, Geert Jan Biessels

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD) is a major cause of stroke and dementia, but little is known about disease mechanisms at the level of the small vessels. 7T-MRI allows assessing small vessel function in vivo in different vessel populations. We hypothesized that multiple aspects of small vessel function are altered in patients with cSVD and that these abnormalities relate to disease burden.

METHODS: Patients and controls participated in a prospective observational cohort study, the ZOOM@SVDs study. Small vessel function measures on 7T-MRI included perforating artery blood flow velocity and pulsatility index in the basal ganglia and centrum semiovale, vascular reactivity to visual stimulation in the occipital cortex, and reactivity to hypercapnia in the gray and white matter. Lesion load on 3T-MRI and cognitive function were used to assess disease burden.

RESULTS: Forty-six patients with sporadic cSVD (mean age ± SD 65 ± 9 years) and 22 matched controls (64 ± 7 years) participated in the ZOOM@SVDs study. Compared with controls, patients had increased pulsatility index (mean difference 0.09, p = 0.01) but similar blood flow velocity in basal ganglia perforating arteries and similar flow velocity and pulsatility index in centrum semiovale perforating arteries. The duration of the vascular response to brief visual stimulation in the occipital cortex was shorter in patients than in controls (mean difference -0.63 seconds, p = 0.02), whereas reactivity to hypercapnia was not significantly affected in the gray and total white matter. Among patients, reactivity to hypercapnia was lower in white matter hyperintensities compared with normal-appearing white matter (blood-oxygen-level dependent mean difference 0.35%, p = 0.001). Blood flow velocity and pulsatility index in basal ganglia perforating arteries and reactivity to brief visual stimulation correlated with disease burden.

DISCUSSION: We observed abnormalities in several aspects of small vessel function in patients with cSVD indicative of regionally increased arteriolar stiffness and decreased reactivity. Worse small vessel function also correlated with increased disease burden. These functional measures provide new mechanistic markers of sporadic cSVD.

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