Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are hypothesised to have an important yet unknown role in the dementia disease pathology. In this study we analysed increasing number of CMBs and their independent associations with routine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a continuum of cognitive impairment. A total of 1039 patients undergoing dementia investigation were analysed and underwent lumbar puncture, and an MRI scan. CSF samples were analysed for amyloid β (Aβ) 42, total tau (T-tau), tau phosphorylated at threonine 18 (P-tau) and CSF/serum albumin ratios. Increasing number of CMBs were independently associated with low Aβ42 levels, in the whole cohort, Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment (p < 0.05). CSF/serum albumin ratios were high with multiple CMBs (p < 0.001), reflecting accompanying blood-brain barrier dysfunction. T-tau and P-tau levels were lower in Alzheimer's patients with multiple CMBs when compared to zero CMBs, but did not change in the rest of the cohort. White matter hyperintensities were associated with low Aβ42 in the whole cohort and Alzheimer's disease (p < 0.05). Aβ42 is the routine CSF-biomarker mainly associated with CMBs in cognitive impairment, and there is an accumulative effect with increasing number of CMBs.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral microbleeds; cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers; dementia; magnetic resonance imaging.
© The Author(s) 2015.