Objective: To investigate the histopathologic substrate of microbleeds detected on 7T postmortem MRI in autopsy cases with severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) and Alzheimer pathology.
Methods: Five decedents (mean age at death 79.6 ± 5.7 years) with documented severe CAA and Alzheimer pathology on standard neuropathologic examination were selected from a local database. Formalin-fixed coronal brain slices were scanned at 7T MRI, including high-resolution T2- and T2*-weighted sequences. Representative microbleeds from each case were sampled for histopathologic analysis, including the presence of blood, blood breakdown products, and markers of ischemic tissue injury.
Results: On MRI, we identified >300 cortical and 4 subcortical microbleeds. Two out of 15 sampled cortical microbleeds corresponded histologically to erythrocytes (suggestive of recent hemorrhages), 4 to vasculopathies (fibrinoid necrosis in 3 and a cavernoma) without substantial parenchymal tissue injury, and 9 to accumulations of iron-positive siderophages without erythrocytes (suggestive of old hemorrhages) combined with mild to moderate degrees of chronic ischemic tissue injury.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence for heterogeneous pathologic substrates and possibly different pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying MRI-observed cortical microbleeds in the context of advanced CAA and Alzheimer disease.
© 2016 American Academy of Neurology.