Cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD) and amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition often co-exist in (prodromal) dementia, and both types of pathology have been associated with neurodegeneration. We examined whether cSVD and Aβ have independent or interactive effects on hippocampal volume (HV) in a memory clinic population. We included 87 individuals with clinical diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease (AD) (n = 24), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (n = 26), and subjective cognitive complaints (SCC) (n = 37). cSVD magnetic resonance imaging markers included white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume, lacunar infarct presence, and microbleed presence. Aβ pathology was assessed as cerebrospinal fluid-derived Aβ1 - 42 levels and dichotomized into normal or abnormal, and HV was determined by manual volumetric measurements. A linear hierarchical regression approach was applied for the detection of additive or interaction effects between cSVD and Aβ on HV in the total participant group (n = 87) and in the non-demented group (including SCC and MCI individuals only, n = 63). The results revealed that abnormal Aβ and lacunar infarct presence were independently associated with lower HV in the non-demented individuals. Interestingly, Aβ and WMH pathology interacted in the non-demented individuals, such that WMH had a negative effect on HV in individuals with abnormal CSF Aβ42 levels, but not in individuals with normal CSF Aβ42 levels. These associations were not present when individuals with AD were included in the analyses. Our observations suggest that relatively early on in the disease process older individuals with abnormal Aβ levels are at an increased risk of accelerated disease progression when concomitant cSVD is present.
Keywords: Amyloid-beta; cerebral small vessel disease; dementia; neurodegeneration.