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Neurobiol Aging. 2013 Sep;34(9):2225-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03.021. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

Cerebral microbleeds are related to subjective cognitive failures: the RUN DMC study.

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Department of Neurology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), including white matter lesions (WML) and lacunar infarcts, is related to objective cognitive impairment but also to subjective cognitive failures (SCF). SCF have reported to be an early predictor of dementia. Cerebral microbleeds (MB) are another manifestation of SVD and have been related to cognitive impairment, but the role of MB in SCF has never been studied. We therefore investigated whether MB are related to SCF among non-demented elderly individuals with SVD, independent of coexisting WML and lacunar infarcts. The RUN DMC study is a prospective cohort study among 503 older persons with cerebral SVD between 50 and 85 years of age. All participants underwent FLAIR and T2* scanning. SCF, subjective memory failures (SMF), and subjective executive failures (SEF) were assessed. The relation between SCF and the presence, number and location of MB was assessed by linear regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, education, depressive symptoms, cognitive function, total brain volume, normalized hippocampal volume, territorial infarcts, WML, and lacunar infarcts. MB were present in 11%. We found a relation between the presence, total number and lobar located MB, and SCF, SMF, and SEF and the reported progression of these failures, especially in participants with good objective cognitive function. In conclusion, MB are related to SCF independent of co-existing WML and lacunar infarcts, especially in those with good objective cognitive performance. These results suggest that MB are associated with the earliest manifestations of cognitive impairment. MB may help us to understand the role of the ever-expanding spectrum of SVD in cognitive impairment.

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