A Cross-Sectional Study on the Impact of Arterial Stiffness on the Corpus Callosum, a Key White Matter Tract Implicated in Alzheimer's Disease

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;77(2):591-605. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200668.


Background: Vascular risk factors such as arterial stiffness play an important role in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), presumably due to the emergence of white matter lesions. However, the impact of arterial stiffness to white matter structure involved in the etiology of AD, including the corpus callosum remains poorly understood.

Objective: The aims of the study are to better understand the relationship between arterial stiffness, white matter microstructure, and perfusion of the corpus callosum in older adults.

Methods: Arterial stiffness was estimated using the gold standard measure of carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). Cognitive performance was evaluated with the Trail Making Test part B-A. Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging was used to obtain microstructural information such as neurite density and extracellular water diffusion. The cerebral blood flow was estimated using arterial spin labelling.

Results: cfPWV better predicts the microstructural integrity of the corpus callosum when compared with other index of vascular aging (the augmentation index, the systolic blood pressure, and the pulse pressure). In particular, significant associations were found between the cfPWV, an alteration of the extracellular water diffusion, and a neuronal density increase in the body of the corpus callosum which was also correlated with the performance in cognitive flexibility.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that arterial stiffness is associated with an alteration of brain integrity which impacts cognitive function in older adults.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; arterial spin labelling; arterial stiffness; corpus callosum; diffusion weighted imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Corpus Callosum / blood supply
  • Corpus Callosum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Corpus Callosum / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Pulse Wave Analysis / methods
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*
  • White Matter / blood supply
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / physiopathology