Background: The clinical effect of cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) on cognition has been receiving much research attention, but results are often inconsistent.
Material/methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and some Chinese electronic databases. A total of 15 studies were included.
Results: Patients with CMBs had higher incidence of cognitive dysfunction (OR 3.14; 95% CI 1.66-5.92) and lower scores of cognitive function (SMD was -0.36 [-0.55, -0.18] in the MMSE group and -0.65 [-0.99, -0.32] in the MoCA [Montreal Cognitive Assessment] group). The results also indicated that a higher number of CMB lesions led to more severe cognitive dysfunction (SMD was -2.41 [-5.04, -0.21] in the mild group and -2.75 [-3.50, -2.01] in the severe group). We also found that cognitive performance was significantly impaired when CMBs were located in deep (-0.4 [-0.69, -0.11]), lobar regions (-0.50 [-0.92, -0.09]), basal ganglia (-0.72 [-1.03, -0.41]), and thalamus brain regions (-0.65 [-0.98, -0.32]).
Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that CMBs were associated with cognitive dysfunction according to higher number and different locations of CMBs. Future work should focus on long-term prognosis of continuing cognitive decline and specific treatments to reduce the formation of CMBs.