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Stroke. 2010 Nov;41(11):2483-90. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.591586. Epub 2010 Sep 23.

Severity of dilated Virchow-Robin spaces is associated with age, blood pressure, and MRI markers of small vessel disease: a population-based study.

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INSERM Unit 708, Paris Cedex 13, France.



Little is known about the risk factors of dilated Virchow-Robin spaces (dVRS) and their relation with other markers of brain small vessel disease. We investigated both issues in a large population-based sample of elderly individuals.


Severity of dVRS was semiquantitatively graded in both white matter and basal ganglia using high-resolution 3-dimensional MRI images taken from 1818 stroke- and dementia-free subjects enrolled in the Three-City Dijon MRI study. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to model the association of cardiovascular risk factors, APOE genotype, brain atrophy, and MRI markers of small vessel disease with the degree of dVRS.


Severity of dVRS was found to be strongly associated with age in both basal ganglia (degree 4 versus 1: OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.2) and white matter (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2 to 1.9). The proportion of hypertensive subjects increased with the degrees of dVRS in both basal ganglia (P = 0.02) and white matter (P = 0.048). Men presented a higher risk of severe dVRS in basal ganglia than women, particularly degree 4 (OR, 6.0; 95% CI, 1.8 to 19.8). The degree of dVRS was associated with the volume of white matter hyperintensities and the prevalence of lacunes, but not with brain atrophy.


In this large cohort study of elderly subjects, the degree of dVRS appears independently associated with age, hypertension, volume of white matter hyperintensities, and lacunar infarctions. dVRS should be considered as another MRI marker of cerebral small vessel disease in the elderly with regional variations in their severity.

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