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Thalamic Atrophy Plays a Crucial Role in the Effect of Asymptomatic Carotid Stenosis on Cognitive Impairment

Authors Zhang W, Qing Z, Hu Y, Shao M, Lu J, Wang J, Li M, Zhang X, Nedelska Z, Hort J, Wang Z, Qiao T, Zhang B

Received 27 July 2020

Accepted for publication 21 October 2020

Published 6 November 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 2083—2094

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S273185

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Zhi-Ying Wu


Wen Zhang,1 Zhao Qing,1 Yongwei Hu,2 Mingran Shao,1 Jiaming Lu,1 Junxia Wang,1 Ming Li,1 Xin Zhang,1 Zuzana Nedelska,3 Jakub Hort,3 Zhishun Wang,4 Tong Qiao,5 Bing Zhang1

1Department of Radiology, Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Wujin People’s Hospital Affiliated to Jiangsu University, Changzhou, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Neurology, Memory Clinic, 2nd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and Motol University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic; 4Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA; 5Department of Vascular Surgery, Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Bing Zhang
Department of Radiology, Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, No. 321 Zhongshan Road, Nanjing 210008, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 15851803070
Email zhangbing_nanjing@nju.edu.cn
Tong Qiao
Department of Vascular Surgery, Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, No. 321 Zhongshan Road, Nanjing 210008, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 15951985338
Email qiaotongmail@aliyun.com

Purpose: Our objectives were to assess the abnormalities of subcortical nuclei by combining volume and shape analyses and potential association with cognitive impairment.
Patients and Methods: Twenty-nine patients with severe ACS of the unilateral internal carotid artery and 31 controls were enrolled between January 2017 to August 2018. All participants underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, blood lipid biochemical measurements, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure subcortical volumes and sub-regional shape deformations. Basic statistics, correction for multiple comparisons. Seventeen ACS patients underwent carotid endarterectomy (CEA) within one week after baseline measurements, cognitive assessments and MRI scans were repeated 6 months after CEA.
Results: The ACS patients had higher apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A1 (ApoB/ApoA1) ratio and worse performance in all cognitive domains than controls. Moreover, the ACS patients showed more profound thalamic atrophy assessed by shape and volume analysis, especially in the medial dorsal thalamus. No significant differences were found in other subcortical nuclei after multiple comparisons correction. At baseline, thalamic atrophy correlated with cognitive impairment and ApoB/ApoA1 ratio. Furthermore, mediation analysis at baseline showed that the association of carotid intima-media thickness with executive functioning was mediated by thalamic volume. After CEA, cognitive improvement and increase in the bilateral medial dorsal thalamic volume were observed.
Conclusion: Our study identified the distinct atrophy of subcortical nuclei and their association with cognition in patients with ACS. Assessments of the thalamus by volumetric and shape analysis may provide an early marker for cerebral ischemia and reperfusion after CEA.

Keywords: asymptomatic carotid stenosis, cognitive impairment, magnetic resonance imaging, endarterectomy, thalamus

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