Background and Purpose -Microstructural damage in the brain induced by chronic ischemia is suggested to play a pivotal role in the neurocognitive dysfunction of adults with Moyamoya disease (MMD). We investigated specific changes in the brain microstructure and their correlations with neurocognitive dysfunction in patients with MMD using a multishell diffusion magnetic resonance imaging technique called neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging. Methods- We evaluated 26 patients with MMD (16-63 years old, 20 females) and 20 age- and sex-matched normal volunteers using neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging and neuropsychological batteries. Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging calculates 2 parameters: the intracellular volume fraction (Vic), which reflects the axon density in the white matter and dendrite density in the cortex, and the orientation dispersion index (OD), which reflects the network complexity. The microstructural damage and its correlation with neurocognitive performance were evaluated by performing a whole-brain analysis using SPM12 and correlation analysis with regional values. Results- Patients with MMD had significantly lower Vic in the white matter and a lower OD mainly in the cortex than those of the controls ( P<0.001, family-wise error corrected). Of all neuropsychological scores, Processing Speed Index (PS) exhibited the strongest correlation with Vic in the white matter ( P<0.001, family-wise error corrected). The Vic and OD values for regions with group differences, including both temporoparietal and frontal areas, correlated with neurocognitive performance (absolute r=0.37-0.64; P<0.01). Conclusions- Chronic ischemia in MMD may decrease the axon density in the white matter and dendrite density in the cortex (Vic) and simplify network complexity (OD), leading to neurocognitive dysfunction. Processing Speed Index may be the most sensitive index used to evaluate the ischemic burden, and the posterior part of the brain may play an important role in neurocognitive function. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: http://www.umin.ac.jp/ctr/ . Unique identifier: UMIN000023082.
Keywords: Moyamoya disease; brain ischemia; cerebrovascular disorders; cognition; cognitive dysfunction; diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; magnetic resonance imaging.