Virchow-Robin Spaces: Correlations with Polysomnography-Derived Sleep Parameters

Sleep. 2015 Jun 1;38(6):853-8. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4726.


Study objectives: To test the hypothesis that enlarged Virchow-Robin space volumes (VRS) are associated with objective measures of poor quality sleep.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Patients: Twenty-six patients being evaluated for cerebrovascular disease were assessed using polysomnography and high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging.

Measurements and results: Regionalized VRS were quantified from three-dimensional high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging and correlated with measures of polysomnography-derived sleep parameters while controlling for age, stroke volume, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and ventricular cerebrospinal fluid volume. Sleep efficiency was negatively correlated with total VRS (rho = -0.47, P = 0.03) and basal ganglia VRS (rho = -0.54, P = 0.01), whereas wake after sleep onset was positively correlated with basal ganglia VRS (rho = 0.52, P = 0.02). Furthermore, VRS in the basal ganglia were negatively correlated with duration of N3 (rho = -0.53, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that sleep may play a role in perivascular clearance in ischemic brain disease, and invite future research into the potential relevance of Virchow-Robin spaces as an imaging biomarker for nocturnal metabolite clearance.

Keywords: MRI; Virchow-Robin; basal ganglia; metabolite clearance; perivascular space; polysomnography; sleep; small vessel disease; stroke; white matter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Stroke / metabolism*