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Hypertens Res. 2015 Apr;38(4):291-7. doi: 10.1038/hr.2015.4. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

Endothelial dysfunction is associated with the severity of cerebral small vessel disease.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Therapeutics, Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima, Japan.
Department of Cardiovascular Regeneration and Medicine, Research Center for Radiation Genome Medicine, Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.


The pathogenesis of cerebral small vessel disease, a disease that involves white matter lesions (WMLs) and cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), is thought to be associated with endothelial dysfunction. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) has been used to measure endothelium-dependent vasodilation. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between endothelial function (as measured by FMD) and cerebral small vessel disease. Patients with a history of cerebrovascular disease and comorbidities were enrolled in this study (n=102; 69 males, 70.1±9.2 years). The patients were divided into two groups according to the severity of WMLs, which were assessed by Fazekas classification; grades 0 to 1 as mild WMLs group and grades 2 to 3 as severe WMLs group. A gradient-echo MRI was performed in 96 patients (94.1%) to evaluate whether CMBs were present. The patients in the severe WMLs group (n=40) were older (P=0.001), more frequently exhibited hypertension (P=0.045) and diabetes mellitus (P=0.026) and possessed lower FMD values (P<0.001) than the patients in the mild WMLs group (n=62). CMBs were observed in 30 patients (31.3%). Using receiver operating characteristic curves, the optimal FMD cutoff values for predicting the presence of severe WMLs and CMBs were 3.9% and 3.7%, respectively. On multivariate logistic analysis, FMD <4.0% (odds ratio 9.50; 95% confidence interval 3.55-28.83) was independently associated with severe WMLs. Additionally, FMD <3.8% (5.82; 2.23-16.50) was also associated with the presence of CMBs. Endothelial dysfunction as evaluated by FMD may be predictive of the severity of cerebral small vessel disease.

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