Epidemiology of intracranial stenosis

J Neuroimaging. 2009 Oct;19 Suppl 1:11S-6S. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6569.2009.00415.x.


Intracranial stenosis is a common etiology for ischemic stroke. Due to limitations of imaging studies, there are limited data on the prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic intracranial stenosis. Intracranial stenosis is more prevalent in Asian, Hispanic, and African-American populations. The reported proportion of patients with symptomatic intracranial stenosis among those hospitalized for ischemic cerebral events varies from 1% in non-Hispanic whites to as high as 50% in Asian populations. In population-based studies, the estimated prevalence of symptomatic intracranial disease varies from 1 in 100,000 for whites to 15 in 100,000 in African Americans. A Chinese population-based study reported intracranial stenosis in 7% of the population aged more than 40 years. Autopsy studies have noted intracranial atherosclerotic disease in about 23% of population in the 6th decade and 80% of population in the 9th decade of life. Angiotensin-converting enzyme polymorphisms, plasma endostatin/vascular endothelial growth factor ratio, glutathione S-transferase omega-1 gene polymorphism, and plasma homocysteine levels are non-modifiable risk factors noted to be associated with intracranial stenosis. Hypertension and serum lipid profile are major modifiable risk factors, whereas sickle cell disease is an uncommon risk factor that can be managed to reduce risk. Associations of intracranial atherosclerosis with diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, aortic plaques, radiotherapy, and meningitis are less well documented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Age Factors
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Constriction, Pathologic / blood
  • Constriction, Pathologic / epidemiology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / genetics
  • Endostatins / blood
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / blood
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / genetics
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / blood
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / genetics
  • Male
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood


  • Endostatins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Homocysteine
  • GSTO1 protein, human
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A