The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between white matter changes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), brain atrophy and ventricular dilation in late-life dementias. T(1)-weighted, T(2)-weighted, and proton density MRI scans were acquired in subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, N=25) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB, N=27). Total brain and ventricular volumes were measured and white matter lesions rated using a semi-quantitative scale. Periventricular hyperintensities (PVH) were found to independently correlate with advancing age and increasing ventricular dilatation in all subjects. In contrast, deep white matter hyperintensities (DWMH) did not correlate with measures of brain atrophy, ventricular dilatation or age, but were associated with a history of hypertension. These findings support the hypothesis that PVH and DWMH are pathologically diverse and that white matter change in AD and DLB may be determined by similar processes. In particular, PVH appear to be linked to atrophic processes involving ventricular enlargement and DWMH to ischaemic risk factors.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.