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Neurobiol Aging. 2013 Jul;34(7):1807-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.01.009. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Is encroachment of the carotid termination into the substantia innominata associated with its atrophy and cognition in Alzheimer's disease?

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Linda C. Campbell Cognitive Neurology Research Unit, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The internal carotid artery termination (CAT) ends in a T-shaped bifurcation just below the substantia innominata (SI), which contains cognitively strategic cholinergic neurons and undergoes atrophy in Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study investigated whether an elongated CAT with possible resulting encroachment into the SI would correlate with SI atrophy and with cognitive dysfunction in AD. We rated the degree of CAT encroachment upon the SI and measured SI volume on magnetic resonance imaging in 30 AD patients, 30 AD patients with subcortical small vessel disease, and 30 age-matched controls. CAT encroachment significantly correlated with SI volume after adjusting for age within the overall group and the groups with dementia. AD patients with higher CAT encroachment scores had lower SI volumes and lower attention, memory, and executive test scores. These data suggest that CAT encroachment may mechanically injure the SI, exacerbating cholinergic damage and contributing to cognitive impairment. This process may represent a possible previously underappreciated mechanism for interaction between large-vessel cerebrovascular disease and AD.

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