Background: Superficial siderosis is a rare radiologic diagnosis of hemosiderin deposition in subpial brain layers. In case studies, an association between superficial siderosis and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) has been described. Also, a potential role of superficial siderosis in Alzheimer disease (AD) was hypothesized. All previously reported cases of superficial siderosis were detected because of overt clinical symptoms. We studied the occurrence of superficial siderosis on brain MRI in a general population of nondemented elderly.
Methods: In 1,062 persons (mean age 69.6 years) from the population-based Rotterdam Scan Study, we performed T2*-weighted MRI to assess the presence of superficial siderosis. Furthermore, the presence, number, and location of cerebral microbleeds were rated, as lobar microbleeds are thought to be indicative of CAA.
Results: We found that superficial siderosis was present in 7 (0.7%) individuals, all of whom had cerebral microbleeds in lobar locations. Furthermore, in all 7 persons, microbleeds were located in close vicinity to superficial siderosis.
Conclusions: Our results provide further indirect support for the presumed link between superficial siderosis and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). Whether superficial siderosis may be a marker for severity or worse prognosis of CAA needs to be further evaluated in longitudinal follow-up.