Frontal lobe white matter hyperintensities and neurofibrillary pathology in the oldest old.Neurology. 2010 Dec 07; 75(23):2071-8.Neur
Current studies suggest an interaction between vascular mechanisms and neurodegenerative processes that leads to late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). We tested whether AD pathology was associated with white matter hyperintensities (WMH) or cerebral infarcts in the oldest old individuals.
Brains from 132 subjects over 85 years old, who came to autopsy from the Vantaa 85+ population-based cohort, were scanned by postmortem MRI and examined for neuropathologic changes. Coronal images were analyzed to determine the degree of frontal and parietal periventricular WMH (PVWMH) and deep WMH (DWMH) and cerebral infarcts. Neuropathologic variables included Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease scores for neuritic plaques and Braak staging among subjects in 5 groups: normal aging (NA), borderline with insufficient AD pathology, AD, AD plus other pathology, and other primary degenerative diseases.
Frontal DWMH were detected in >50% of the sample. Both frontal PVWMH and DWMH were significantly more extensive in the AD group compared to the NA group or the NA and borderline groups combined. Frontal PVWMH and DWMH were also associated with increased Braak staging (p = 0.03) and the neuritic plaque load (p = 0.01). Further analysis revealed there were a greater number of cerebral infarcts associated with frontal DWMH (p = 0.03) but not with frontal PVWMH.
Our study showed an association between neurofibrillary pathology and frontal PVWMH and DWMH (rather than parietal), as a surrogate of small vessel disease, particularly in very old community-dwelling individuals.