Blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown can disrupt nutrient supply and waste removal, which affects neuronal functioning. Currently, dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI is the preferred in-vivo method to quantify BBB leakage. Dedicated DCE MRI studies in normal aging individuals are lacking, which could hamper value estimation and interpretation of leakage rate in pathological conditions. Therefore, we applied DCE MRI to investigate the association between BBB disruption and age in a healthy sample. Fifty-seven cognitively and neurologically healthy, middle-aged to older participants (mean age: 66 years, range: 47-91 years) underwent MRI, including DCE MRI with intravenous injection of a gadolinium-based contrast agent. Pharmacokinetic modeling was applied to contrast concentration time-curves to estimate BBB leakage rate in each voxel. Subsequently, leakage rate was calculated in the white and gray matter, and primary (basic sensory and motor functions), secondary (association areas), and tertiary (higher-order cognition) brain regions. A difference in vulnerability to deterioration was expected between these regions, with especially tertiary regions being affected by age. Higher BBB leakage rate was significantly associated with older age in the white and gray matter, and also in tertiary, but not in primary or secondary brain regions. Even in healthy individuals, BBB disruption was stronger in older persons, which suggests BBB disruption is a normal physiologically aging phenomenon. Age-related increase in BBB disruption occurred especially in brain regions most vulnerable to age-related deterioration, which may indicate that BBB disruption is an underlying mechanism of normal age-related decline.Netherlands Trial Register number: NL6358, date of registration: 2017-03-24.
- Blood-brain barrier
- CONTRAST-ENHANCED MRI
- CORTICAL THICKNESS
- Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI
- Normal aging
- WHITE-MATTER HYPERINTENSITIES