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Structural changes in white matter lesion patients and their correlation with cognitive impairment

Authors Wang J, Liang Y, Chen H, Wang W, Wang Y, Liang Y, Zhang Y

Received 15 November 2018

Accepted for publication 20 February 2019

Published 21 May 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 1355—1363


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jun Chen

Jinfang Wang,1,2 Yi Liang,2 Hongyan Chen,1 Wanming Wang,2 Yanwen Wang,2 Ying Liang,3 Yumei Zhang1,4

1Department of Neurology, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100050, China; 2Department of Neurology, General Hospital of The Yang Tze River Shipping, Wuhan Brain Hospital, Wuhan 430000, China; 3School of Biomedical Engineering, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100050, China; 4Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100050, China

Background: White matter lesions (WMLs) play a role in cognitive decline and dementia. Little is known about gray matter (GM) changes in WMLs. This study aimed to investigate GM changes in WML patients.
Materials and methods: Correlations between altered structural volume and cognitive assessment scores were investigated. GM and white matter (WM) changes in 23 WML-vascular dementia (VaD) patients, 22 WML-non-dementia vascular cognitive impairment (VCIND) patients, and 23 healthy control (HC) subjects were examined. Gray matter density (GMD) was calculated by measuring local proportions of GM at thousands of homologous cortical locations. WM volume was obtained by fully automated software using voxel-based morphometry (VBM).
Results: Widespread GMD was significantly lower in WML patients compared to control subjects in cortical and subcortical regions (p<0.05). Greatest differences were found in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, insula, angular gyrus, caudate, precentral gyrus, and right middle temporal gyrus, right thalamus. Secondary region of interest (ROI) analysis indicated significantly greater GMD in the bilateral caudate among WML-VCIND patients (n=22) compared to HCs (p<0.05). There was a significant difference in WM volume between WML patients and control subjects (p<0.05). Greatest differences were located in the genu/body/splenium of the corpus callosum and superior corona radiata L, and posterior corona radiata L. There was a significant association between structural changes and cognitive scores (Montreal Cognitive Assessment [MoCA] score) (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between structural changes and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores (p>0.05).
Conclusion: GMD and WM volume were changed in WMLs, and the changes were detectable. Correlation between structural changes and cognitive function was promising in understanding the pathological and physiological mechanisms of WMLs.

Keywords: white matter lesions, vascular dementia, gray matter density, dementia

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