Emerging concepts in sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy

Brain. 2017 Jul 1;140(7):1829-1850. doi: 10.1093/brain/awx047.


Sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy is a common, well-defined small vessel disease and a largely untreatable cause of intracerebral haemorrhage and contributor to age-related cognitive decline. The term 'cerebral amyloid angiopathy' now encompasses not only a specific cerebrovascular pathological finding, but also different clinical syndromes (both acute and progressive), brain parenchymal lesions seen on neuroimaging and a set of diagnostic criteria-the Boston criteria, which have resulted in increasingly detected disease during life. Over the past few years, it has become clear that, at the pathophysiological level, cerebral amyloid angiopathy appears to be in part a protein elimination failure angiopathy and that this dysfunction is a feed-forward process, which potentially leads to worsening vascular amyloid-β accumulation, activation of vascular injury pathways and impaired vascular physiology. From a clinical standpoint, cerebral amyloid angiopathy is characterized by individual focal lesions (microbleeds, cortical superficial siderosis, microinfarcts) and large-scale alterations (white matter hyperintensities, structural connectivity, cortical thickness), both cortical and subcortical. This review provides an interdisciplinary critical outlook on various emerging and changing concepts in the field, illustrating mechanisms associated with amyloid cerebrovascular pathology and neurological dysfunction.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; intracerebral haemorrhage; perivascular drainage; small vessel disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / complications
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / pathology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications*
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography


  • Amyloid