Small vessel disease (SVD) is a common contributor to dementia. Subtle blood-brain barrier (BBB) leakage may be important in SVD-induced brain damage.
We assessed imaging, clinical variables, and cognition in patients with mild (i.e., nondisabling) ischemic lacunar or cortical stroke. We analyzed BBB leakage, interstitial fluid, and white matter integrity using multimodal tissue-specific spatial analysis around white matter hyperintensities (WMH). We assessed predictors of 1 year cognition, recurrent stroke, and dependency.
In 201 patients, median age 67 (range 34–97), BBB leakage, and interstitial fluid were higher in WMH than normal-appearing white matter; leakage in normal-appearing white matter increased with proximity to WMH (P < .0001), with WMH severity (P = .033), age (P = .03), and hypertension (P < .0001). BBB leakage in WMH predicted declining cognition at 1 year.
BBB leakage increases in normal-appearing white matter with WMH and predicts worsening cognition. Interventions to reduce BBB leakage may prevent SVD-associated dementia.
- blood brain barrier
- small vessel disease
- white matter hyperintensities