Significant association between leukoaraiosis and metabolic syndrome in healthy subjects

Neurology. 2007 Sep 4;69(10):974-8. doi: 10.1212/ Epub 2007 May 30.


Objective: To investigate the relationship between leukoaraiosis (LA), which has been considered as an intermediate substitute of ischemic brain damages, and metabolic syndrome (MetS), which attracts attention as a risk factor for cerebrovascular diseases, in healthy subjects derived from various age groups.

Methods: We studied 1,030 healthy persons at ages between 28 and 78 years (mean, 52.7 years) with no history of stroke who visited a health care facility for routine health checkups. MetS was defined using the criteria of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III. LA was assessed using the rating scale of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study on MRI. Logistic regression analysis was performed to examine associations between LA and MetS.

Results: A total of 296 (28.8%) subjects had LA on MRI. MetS was significantly associated with the presence of LA (adjusted OR, 3.33; 95% CI, 2.30, 4.84). The association was constant across grades of LA; the adjusted OR was 3.41 (95% CI, 2.30, 5.06) for minimal LA and 3.07 (95% CI, 1.75, 5.38) for LA combining mild, moderate, and severe grades. As for MetS components, elevated blood pressure (adjusted OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.57, 2.99), impaired fasting glucose (adjusted OR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.13, 2.39), and hypertriglyceridemia (adjusted OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.08, 2.28) were independently associated with all grades of LA.

Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) was significantly associated with every grade of leukoaraiosis (LA), including the minimal LA. Impaired fasting glucose and hypertriglyceridemia were associated with LA independently of elevated blood pressure. MetS can play an important role in identifying healthy subjects who have an increased risk of LA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukoaraiosis / complications*
  • Leukoaraiosis / diagnosis*
  • Leukoaraiosis / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors