Accumulation of MRI markers of cerebral small vessel disease is associated with decreased cognitive function. A study in first-ever lacunar stroke and hypertensive patients

Marjolein Huijts*, Annelien Duits, Robert J. van Oostenbrugge, Abraham A. Kroon, Peter W. de Leeuw, Julie Staals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: White matter lesions (WMLs), asymptomatic lacunar infarcts, brain microbleeds (BMBs), and enlarged perivascular spaces (EPVS) have been identified as silent lesions due to cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD). All these markers have been individually linked to cognitive functioning, but are also strongly correlated with each other. The combined effect of these markers on cognitive function has never been studied and would possibly provide more useful information on the effect on cognitive function. Methods: Brain MRI and extensive neuropsychological assessment were performed in 189 patients at risk for cSVD (112 hypertensive patients and 77 first-ever lacunar stroke patients). We rated the presence of any asymptomatic lacunar infarct, extensive WMLs, any deep BMB, and moderate to extensive EPVS in the basal ganglia. The presence of each marker was summed to an ordinal score between 0 and 4. Associations with domains of cognitive function (memory, executive function, information processing speed, and overall cognition) were analyzed with correlation analyses. Results: Correlation analyses revealed significant associations between accumulating cSVD burden and decreased performance on all cognitive domains (all p
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2013


  • cerebral small vessel disease
  • cognition
  • white matter lesions
  • brain microbleeds
  • lacunar infarcts
  • enlarged perivascular spaces

Cite this