Cerebral microbleeds in adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with cranial radiation

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 20;10(1):692. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-57682-8.


Cranial radiation therapy is associated with white matter-specific brain injury, cortical volume loss, mineralization, microangiopathy and neurocognitive impairment in survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In this retrospective cross-sectional analysis, neurocognitive testing and 3 T brain MRI's were obtained in 101 survivors treated with cranial radiation. Small focal intracerebral hemorrhages only visible on exquisitely sensitive MRI sequences were identified and localized using susceptibility weighted imaging. Modified Poisson regression was used to assess the effect of cranial radiation on cumulative number and location of microbleeds in each brain region, and multiple linear regression was used to evaluate microbleeds on neurocognitive outcomes, adjusting for age at diagnosis and sex. At least one microbleed was present in 85% of survivors, occurring more frequently in frontal lobes. Radiation dose of 24 Gy conveyed a 5-fold greater risk (95% CI 2.57-10.32) of having multiple microbleeds compared to a dose of 18 Gy. No significant difference was found in neurocognitive scores with either the absence or presence of microbleeds or their location. Greater prevalence of microbleeds in our study compared to prior reports is likely related to longer time since treatment, better sensitivity of SWI for detection of microbleeds and the use of a 3 T MRI platform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / psychology
  • Cranial Irradiation / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / radiotherapy*
  • Retrospective Studies