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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2015;39(2):138-43. doi: 10.1159/000371488. Epub 2015 Jan 31.

The significance of cortical cerebellar microbleeds and microinfarcts in neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases. A post-mortem 7.0-tesla magnetic resonance study with neuropathological correlates.

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Université de Lille, INSERM U1171, Lille, France.



As cortical microbleeds and microinfarcts in neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases have been studied predominantly at the level of the cerebral hemispheres and linked to the presence of cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), we aimed at determining with 7.0-tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) whether the causes and the frequency of cortical cerebellar microbleeds (CCeMBs) and microinfarcts (CCeMIs) are the same.


Hundred and four postmortem brains, composed of 29 with pure Alzheimer's disease (AD), 9 with AD associated to CAA, 10 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, 9 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, 10 with Lewy body disease, 12 with progressive supranuclear palsy, 9 with vascular dementia (VaD), and 16 controls, were examined. On a horizontal section of a cerebellar hemisphere examined with 7.0-tesla MRI, the number CCeMBs and CCeMIs were compared between the different disease groups and the control group. The MRI findings were also compared with the corresponding mean values observed on histological examination of a separate standard horizontal section of a cerebellar hemisphere, used for diagnostic purpose.


CCeMBs and CCeMIs were only significantly increased in the VaD group. When comparing the diseased patients with and without CAA mutually and with those with arterial hypertension and severe atherosclerotic cerebrovascular disease, only in the latter an increase of CCeMBs and CCeMIs was observed. There was an excellent correlation between the MRI and the neuropathological findings.


CCeMBs and CCeMIs are mainly due to atherosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and not due to CAA. Their increased presence cannot be included to the Boston diagnostic criteria for CAA.

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