Effects of medial temporal atrophy and white matter hyperintensities on the cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer's disease

Eur Neurol. 2011;66(2):75-82. doi: 10.1159/000329277. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Aims: We conducted this study to investigate the independent association of medial temporal atrophy (MTA) and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) with cognitive impairments of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and the interaction between MTA and WMH.

Methods: From 13 centers, a total of 216 AD patients were consecutively recruited and their MTA and WMH were visually rated. We evaluated the association of MTA and WMH with the various cognitive domains, and the interaction between MTA and WMH.

Results: MTA independently correlated with scores of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR), delayed recalls of the Seoul Verbal Learning Test (SVLT), the Boston Naming Test (BNT), and Word Fluency. WMH independently correlated with MMSE, CDR, Digit Span, and Stroop word reading, but not with delayed recall. There were interactions of WMH and MTA on CDR (p = 0.004), SVLT (p = 0.023), BNT (p = 0.002) and the semantic Word Fluency (p = 0.007).

Conclusion: MTA and WMH independently affected cognitive deficits in AD patients, with somewhat different patterns where MTA was associated mostly with memory and language, while WMH were associated with attention and frontal executive functions. This study also showed interactions between MTA and WMH on some cognitive deficits and dementia severity, suggesting that they synergistically contribute to cognitive impairment in AD.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Verbal Learning