Pathogenesis and pathophysiology of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2020 Dec;26(12):1230-1240. doi: 10.1111/cns.13526. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH), the most common type of adult-onset hydrocephalus, is a potentially reversible neuropsychiatric entity characterized by dilated ventricles, cognitive deficit, gait apraxia, and urinary incontinence. Despite its relatively typical imaging features and clinical symptoms, the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of iNPH remain unclear. In this review, we summarize current pathogenetic conceptions of iNPH and its pathophysiological features that lead to neurological deficits. The common consensus is that ventriculomegaly resulting from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics could initiate a vicious cycle of neurological damages in iNPH. Pathophysiological factors including hypoperfusion, glymphatic impairment, disturbance of metabolism, astrogliosis, neuroinflammation, and blood-brain barrier disruption jointly cause white matter and gray matter lesions, and eventually lead to various iNPH symptoms. Also, we review the current treatment options and discuss the prospective treatment strategies for iNPH. CSF diversion with ventriculoperitoneal or lumboperitonealshunts remains as the standard therapy, while its complications prompt attempts to refine shunt insertion and develop new therapeutic procedures. Recent progress on advanced biomaterials and improved understanding of pathogenesis offers new avenues to treat iNPH.

Keywords: cerebrospinal fluid dynamics; idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus; pathogenesis; pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiopathology*
  • Glymphatic System / metabolism
  • Glymphatic System / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / metabolism
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies