Brain atrophy and strategic lesion location increases risk of parkinsonism in cerebral small vessel disease

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2019 Apr;61:94-100. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2018.11.010. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


Introduction: Incident parkinsonism in patients with comparable cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) burden is not fully explained by presence of SVD alone. We therefore investigated if severity of SVD, SVD location, incidence of SVD and/or brain atrophy plays a role in this distinct development of parkinsonism.

Methods: Participants were from the RUN DMC study, a prospective cohort of 503 individuals with SVD. Parkinsonism was diagnosed according to the UKPDS brain bank criteria. Fine and Gray method was used to assess the association between SVD and incident parkinsonism. Differences in white matter hyperintensities (WMH) progression and brain atrophy were calculated with a linear mixed effect analysis.

Results: After a median follow-up of 8.6 years, 32 of 501 participants developed parkinsonism (6.4%). The highest WMH load was found in the frontal lobe for both groups. Presence of more than one lacune at baseline was higher in the group who developed parkinsonism, especially in the frontal lobe (22% versus 3%, p < 0.001) and basal ganglia (12.5% versus 1%, p-value <0.001). The annual rate of total brain atrophy was significantly higher for those who developed parkinsonism compared to those who did not (8.7 ml [95%CI 7.1-10.3] and 4.9 ml [95%CI 4.5-5.3], respectively). While WMH progression was not different, incidence of lacunes and microbleeds was higher in the group with parkinsonism.

Conclusion: The risk of parkinsonism in patients with SVD is especially increased when WMH and lacunes are present in the frontal lobe. A higher brain atrophy rate might further increase this risk.

Keywords: Brain atrophy; Cerebral small vessel disease; Parkinsonism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrophy
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / epidemiology*
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus / pathology
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / pathology