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Neuroimaging, clinical and life course correlates of normal-appearing white matter integrity in 70-year-olds

James, Sarah-Naomi; Manning, Emily N; Storey, Mathew; Nicholas, Jennifer M; Coath, William; Keuss, Sarah E; Cash, David M; ... Schott, Jonathan M; + view all (2023) Neuroimaging, clinical and life course correlates of normal-appearing white matter integrity in 70-year-olds. Brain Communications , Article fcad225. 10.1093/braincomms/fcad225. Green open access

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Abstract

We investigate associations between normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) microstructural integrity in cognitively normal ∼70-year-olds and concurrently measured brain health and cognition, demographics, genetics and life course cardiovascular health. Participants born in the same week in March 1946 (British 1946 Birth cohort) underwent PET-MRI around age 70. Mean standardized NAWM integrity metrics (fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), neurite density index (NDI) and orientation dispersion index (ODI)) were derived from diffusion MRI. Linear regression was used to test associations between NAWM metrics and (1) concurrent measures, including whole brain volume, white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), PET amyloid and cognition; (2) the influence of demographic and genetic predictors, including sex, childhood cognition, education, socioeconomic position, and genetic risk for Alzheimer’s Disease (APOE-ε4); (3) systolic and diastolic blood pressure and cardiovascular health (FHS-CVS) across adulthood. Sex interactions were tested. Statistical significance included false discovery rate correction (5%). 362 participants met inclusion criteria (mean age 70 years, 49% female). Higher WMHV was associated with lower FA (b=-0.09 [95%CI:-0.11, -0.06] p<0.01), NDI (b=-0.17 [-0.22, -0.12] p<0.01), and higher MD (b=0.14 [-0.10, -0.17] p<0.01); amyloid (in men) was associated with lower FA (b=-0.04 [-0.08, -0.01] p=0.03) and higher MD (b=0.06 [0.01,0.11] p=0.02). FHS-CVS in later-life (age 69) was associated with NAWM [lower FA (b=-0.06 [-0.09, -0.02] p<0.01), NDI (b=-0.10 [-0.17, -0.03] p<0.01), and higher MD (b=0.09 [0.04,0.14] p<0.01). Significant sex interactions (p<0.05) emerged for midlife cardiovascular health (age 53) and NAWM at 70: marginal effect plots demonstrated, in women only, NAWM was associated with higher midlife FHS-CVS (lower FA and NDI), midlife systolic (lower FA, NDI, and higher MD), and diastolic (lower FA and NDI) blood pressure, and greater blood pressure change between 43 and 53 years (lower FA and NDI), independently of WMHV. In summary, poorer NAWM microstructural integrity in ∼70-year-olds was associated with measures of cerebral small vessel disease, amyloid (in males) and later-life cardiovascular health, demonstrating how NAWM can provide additional information to overt white matter disease. Our findings further show that greater midlife cardiovascular risk and higher blood pressure were associated with poorer NAWM microstructural integrity in females only, suggesting that women’s brains may be more susceptible to the effects of midlife blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

Type: Article
Title: Neuroimaging, clinical and life course correlates of normal-appearing white matter integrity in 70-year-olds
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcad225
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcad225
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Normal appearing white matter, microstructural integrity, brain health, vascular risk, diffusion
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10175638
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