Cortical microinfarcts and demyelination affect cognition in cases at high risk for dementia

Neurology. 2007 Mar 20;68(12):927-31. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000257094.10655.9a.


Objective: To investigate the possible synergistic effect of microvascular lesions with mild Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology in mixed cases.

Methods: We assessed the cognitive impact of cortical microinfarcts, deep white matter and periventricular demyelination, as well as diffuse and focal gliosis in a large series of 43 prospectively evaluated autopsy cases scored Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage III, but without macroscopic vascular pathology or substantial non-AD, nonvascular microscopic lesions. We included bilateral assessment of all types of microvascular lesions and used multivariate models that control for the possible confounding effect of age and amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) deposits.

Results: Only cortical microinfarcts and periventricular demyelination were significantly associated with the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR) score. In a univariate model, the cortical microinfarct score explained 9% of the variability in CDR scores and periventricular demyelination score 7.3%. Abeta deposition explained only 3.5% of the CDR variability. In a logistic regression model, both variables were strongly associated with the presence of dementia (R = 0.45; p < 0.05). When the CDR sum of the boxes was used, Abeta staging explained 8.9% of cognitive variability, the addition of cortical microinfarct predicted an extra 15.5%, and that of periventricular demyelination an extra 9%.

Conclusions: Cortical microinfarcts and, to a lesser degree, periventricular demyelination contribute to the cognitive decline in individuals at high risk for dementia. Both should be taken into account when defining the neuropathologic criteria for mixed dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Infarction / complications
  • Cerebral Infarction / pathology*
  • Cerebral Infarction / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dementia / etiology
  • Dementia / pathology*
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / complications
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiopathology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors