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Curr Alzheimer Res. 2018 Jul 1. doi: 10.2174/1567205015666180702111110. [Epub ahead of print]

Association Between Cerebral Small Vessel Disease, Measures of Brain Atrophy and Mild Parkinsonian Signs in Neurologically and Cognitively Healthy Subjects Aged 45-84 Years: a Cross-sectional Study.

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Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Palermo, Palermo. Italy.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Parma. Italy.
Fondazione "Salvatore Maugeri", Sciacca. Italy.
Department of Economics, Business, and Statistics Sciences, University of Palermo, Palermo. Italy.
Institute of Biomedicine and Molecular Immunology, National Research Council, Palermo. Italy.



Mild Parkinsonian signs (MPS) are commonly seen in aging, and have been related to cerebral small vessel diseases (SVD) with no univocal results.


The aim of this study is to investigate the cross-sectional relation between MPS and white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, caudate atrophy, and global cerebral atrophy in a large cohort of neurologically and cognitively healthy (NCH) aging individuals.


1,219 NCH individuals were included in the analysis, and underwent standard brain MRI. The items of the motor section of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale were used to evaluate tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and gait/balance/axial dysfunction. Caudate atrophy, and global cerebral atrophy were assessed through the bicaudate ratio and the the lateral ventricles to brain ratio, respectively. WMH were assessed through two visual rating scales. Lacunes were also rated. Associations of MPS with vascular risk factors/diseases and imaging findings were determined using logistic regression analysis.


Frontal and basal ganglia lacunes, frontal WMH, caudate atrophy, and global cerebral atrophy were associated with bradykinesia. Basal ganglia lacunes, caudate atrophy, and global cerebral atrophy were associated with gait/balance/axial dysfunction. Rigidity was associated with frontal WMH, and tremor with caudate atrophy and global cerebral atrophy. NCH subjects with MPS, although cognitively normal, performed less than subjects without MPS in tests evaluating global cognition and language.


This study demonstrates that in NCH aging individuals, MPS are associated with cortical and subcortical vascular and atrophic changes, and are, probably, a warning sign of incipient cognitive decline. Subjects with MPS should manage rigorously cerebral SVD to prevent future physical and cognitive disabilities.


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