Relationship between Cerebral Microinfarcts and Dementia by Sex: Findings from a community-based Autopsy Study

Int J Cerebrovasc Dis Stroke. 2024;7(1):171. doi: 10.29011/2688-8734.100171. Epub 2024 Jan 17.


Cerebral microinfarcts are common in older adults and are associated with cognitive impairment. Less is known about sex-related variation in the relationship between cerebral microinfarcts and dementia in older adults, the examination of which was the objective of this study. This case-control study was based on the 727 participants (419 women) in the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) autopsy data. Microinfarcts were ascertained by blinded board-certified neuropathologists, and dementia diagnoses were made by the ACT Consensus Diagnosis Conference per DSM-IV. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate adjusted odds ratio (aOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI). Microinfarcts were present in 49% (356/727) of the participants, which was numerically higher in women: 51% (213/419) vs 46% (143/308). aOR (95% CI) for dementia associated with any microinfarct for female and male participants were 1.45 (0.91-2.30) and 1.24 (0.75-2.06), respectively (p for interaction, 0.34). Respective aORs (95%CIs) associated with ≥2 microinfarcts were 1.37 (0.79-2.36) and 1.53 (0.84-2.78), with interaction p, 0.84. Subcortical microinfarcts were present in 36% (138/381) and 23% (78/346) of patients with and without dementia (aOR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.14-2.38). Respective aOR (95% CI) in female and male participants were 1.70 (1.03-2.82) and 1.59 (0.90-2.80), (p for interaction, 0.55). There was no association with cortical microinfarcts (aOR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.83-1.69). These findings suggest that association between microinfarcts and dementia is primarily mediated by subcortical microinfarcts, but we found no evidence of sex-related variation. Future studies with greater power are needed to determine if the associations we found are replicable.

Keywords: Cortical; Dementia; Microinfarcts; Sex; Subcortical.