Blood-brain barrier impairment in dementia: Current and future in vivo assessments

Harm J. van de Haar, Saartje Burgmans, Paul A. M. Hofman, Frans R. J. Verhey, Jacobus F. A. Jansen, Walter H. Backes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Web of Science)


Increasing evidence indicates that blood brain barrier (BBB) impairment may play a role in the pathophysiology of cognitive decline and dementia. In vivo imaging studies are needed to quantify and localize the BBB defects during life, contemplating the circulatory properties. We reviewed the literature for imaging studies investigating BBB impairment in patients suffering from dementia. After selection, 11 imaging studies were included, of which 6 used contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 2 used contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT), and 3 positron emission tomography (PET). Primarily the MRI studies hint at a subtle increasing permeability of the BBB, particularly in patients already exhibiting cerebrovascular pathology. More elaborate studies are required to provide convincing evidence on BBB impairment in patients with various stages of dementia with and without obvious cerebrovascular pathology. In the future, dynamic contrast enhanced MRI techniques and transport specific imaging using PET may further detail the research on the molecular nature of BBB defects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Contrast-enhanced
  • PET
  • CT

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