Determinants of white matter hyperintensity burden in patients with Fabry disease

Neurology. 2016 May 17;86(20):1880-6. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002673. Epub 2016 Apr 20.


Objective: Using a semiautomated volumetric MRI assessment method, we aimed to identify determinants of white matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden in patients with Fabry disease (FD).

Methods: Patients with confirmed FD and brain MRI available for this analysis were eligible for this protocol after written consent. Clinical characteristics were abstracted from medical records. T2 fluid-attenuated inversion recovery MRI were transferred in electronic format and analyzed for WMH volume (WMHV) using a validated, computer-assisted method. WMHV was normalized for head size (nWMHV) and natural log-transformed (lnWMHV) for univariate and multivariate linear regression analyses. Level of significance was set at p < 0.05 for all analyses.

Results: Of 223 patients with FD and WMHV analyzed, 132 (59%) were female. Mean age at MRI was 39.2 ± 14.9 (range 9.6-72.7) years, and 136 (61%) patients received enzyme replacement therapy prior to enrollment. Median nWMHV was 2.7 cm(3) (interquartile range 1.8-4.0). Age (β 0.02, p = 0.008) and history of stroke (β 1.13, p = 0.02) were independently associated with lnWMHV. However, WMH burden-as well as WMHV predictors-varied by decade of life in this cohort of patients with FD (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: In this largest-to-date cohort of patients with FD who had volumetric analysis of MRI, age and prior stroke independently predicted the burden of WMH. The 4th decade of life appears to be critical in progression of WMH burden, as novel predictors of WMHV emerged in patients aged 31-40 years. Future studies to elucidate the biology of WMH in FD and its role as potential MRI marker of disease progression are needed.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Child
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Fabry Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fabry Disease / drug therapy
  • Fabry Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult