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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2015 Oct;35(10):1610-5. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2015.92. Epub 2015 May 13.

Reduced blood flow in normal white matter predicts development of leukoaraiosis.

Bernbaum M1,2,3, Menon BK1,2,3,4,5,6, Fick G6, Smith EE1,2,3,4,5,6, Goyal M2,3,4,5, Frayne R1,2,3,4,5, Coutts SB1,2,3,4,5.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Seaman Family MR Research Center, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Radiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether low cerebral blood flow (CBF) is associated with subsequent development of white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Patients were included from a longitudinal magnetic resonance (MR) imaging study of minor stroke/transient ischemic attack patients. Images were co-registered and new WMH at 18 months were identified by comparing follow-up imaging with baseline fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR). Regions-of-interest (ROIs) were placed on FLAIR images in one of three categories: (1) WMH seen at both baseline and follow-up imaging, (2) new WMH seen only on follow-up imaging, and (3) regions of normal-appearing white matter at both time points. Registered CBF maps at baseline were used to measure CBF in the ROIs. A multivariable model was developed using mixed-effects logistic regression to determine the effect of baseline CBF on the development on new WMH. Forty patients were included. Mean age was 61±11 years, 30% were female. Low baseline CBF, female sex, and presence of diabetes were independently associated with the presence of new WMH on follow-up imaging. The odds of having new WMH on follow-up imaging reduces by 0.61 (95% confidence interval=0.57 to 0.65) for each 1 mL/100 g per minute increase in baseline CBF. We conclude that regions of white matter with low CBF develop new WMH on follow-up imaging.

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