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J Aging Res. 2011;2011:617927. doi: 10.4061/2011/617927. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

Age-related white matter changes.

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Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Shatin 999077, Hong Kong.


Age-related white matter changes (WMC) are considered manifestation of arteriolosclerotic small vessel disease and are related to age and vascular risk factors. Most recent studies have shown that WMC are associated with a host of poor outcomes, including cognitive impairment, dementia, urinary incontinence, gait disturbances, depression, and increased risk of stroke and death. Although the clinical relevance of WMC has been extensively studied, to date, only very few clinical trials have evaluated potential symptomatic or preventive treatments for WMC. In this paper, we reviewed the current understanding in the pathophysiology, epidemiology, clinical importance, chemical biomarkers, and treatments of age-related WMC.

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