Contribution of white matter hyperintensities to ventricular enlargement in older adults

Neuroimage Clin. 2022;34:103019. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2022.103019. Epub 2022 Apr 26.


Lateral ventricles might increase due to generalized tissue loss related to brain atrophy. Alternatively, they may expand into areas of tissue loss related to white matter hyperintensities (WMH). We assessed longitudinal associations between lateral ventricle and WMH volumes, accounting for total brain volume, blood pressure, history of stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and smoking at ages 73, 76 and 79, in participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, including MRI data from all available time points. Lateral ventricle volume increased steadily with age, WMH volume change was more variable. WMH volume decreased in 20% and increased in remaining subjects. Over 6 years, lateral ventricle volume increased by 3% per year of age, 0.1% per mm Hg increase in blood pressure, 3.2% per 1% decrease of total brain volume, and 4.5% per 1% increase of WMH volume. Over time, lateral ventricle volumes were 19% smaller in women than men. Ventricular and WMH volume changes are modestly associated and independent of general brain atrophy, suggesting that their underlying processes do not fully overlap.

Keywords: Brain atrophy; Cerebrovascular disease; Magnetic resonance imaging; Ventricular enlargement; White matter hyperintensities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukoaraiosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / pathology
  • White Matter* / pathology