2001–2011: a decade of the LADIS (Leukoaraiosis And DISability) Study: what have we learned about white matter changes and small-vessel disease?

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011;32(6):577-88. doi: 10.1159/000334498.


Over the last 20 years, evidence about the clinical correlates of cerebral white matter changes (WMC; also called leukoaraiosis)has been accumulating. WMC are now listed among the neuroimaging expressions of cerebral small-vessel disease and are no longer considered an innocuous finding because they are associated, in cross-sectional surveys, with various disturbances and, in follow-up studies, with poor prognosis. The Leukoaraiosis And DISability (LADIS) study has contributed substantially to this body of knowledge.LADIS is a European multicenter collaboration that was started in 2001 with the aim of assessing the independent role of WMC in predicting disability in subjects aged 65–84. The main results of the LADIS study have been released in 2009 with the demonstration that severe WMC more than double the risk of transition from an autonomous to a dependent status after 3 years of follow-up. The LADIS study has also contributed more focused sub-studies assessing the possible role of WMC in the decline of cognitive and motor performances,depressive symptoms associated with aging and cerebrovascular diseases, urinary disturbances, and also the role of other brain lesions (lacunar infarcts, cerebral atrophy,and corpus callosum morphology). The LADIS study provides a good example of harmonization of instruments (MRI protocol, clinical, neuropsychological, and functional scales)within an international collaboration. Currently, the LADIS study is providing data about the natural history of WMC. In this paper, we review the background and the main results of the LADIS study. This review puts forward some considerations for future studies in the field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / pathology*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / psychology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukoaraiosis / pathology*
  • Leukoaraiosis / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome