Subcortical white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in the aging population frequently represent vascular injury that may lead to cognitive impairment. WMH progression is well described, but the factors underlying WMH regression remain poorly understood. A sample of 351 participants from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 2 (ADNI2) was explored who had WMH volumetric quantification, structural brain measures, and cognitive measures (memory and executive function) at baseline and after approximately 2 years. Selected participants were categorized into three groups based on WMH change over time, including those that demonstrated regression (n = 96; 25.5%), stability (n = 72; 19.1%), and progression (n = 209; 55.4%). There were no significant differences in age, education, sex, or cognitive status between groups. Analysis of variance demonstrated significant differences in atrophy between the progression and both regression (p = 0.004) and stable groups (p = 0.012). Memory assessments improved over time in the regression and stable groups but declined in the progression group (p = 0.003; p = 0.018). WMH regression is associated with decreased brain atrophy and improvement in memory performance over two years compared to those with WMH progression, in whom memory and brain atrophy worsened. These data suggest that WMHs are dynamic and associated with changes in atrophy and cognition.

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Published in Brain Sciences, v. 9, issue 7, 170.

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded by Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904) and DOD ADNI (Department of Defense award number W81XWH-12-2-0012). ADNI is funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and through generous contributions from the following: AbbVie, Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation; Araclon Biotech; BioClinica, Inc.; Biogen; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; CereSpir, Inc.; Cogstate; Eisai Inc.; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; EuroImmun; F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and its affiliated company Genentech, Inc.; Fujirebio; GE Healthcare; IXICO Ltd.; Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development, LLC.; Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC.; Lumosity; Lundbeck; Merck & Co., Inc.; Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC.; NeuroRx Research; Neurotrack Technologies; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Pfizer Inc.; Piramal Imaging; Servier; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; and Transition Therapeutics. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing funds to support ADNI clinical sites in Canada. Private sector contributions are facilitated by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (www.fnih.org). The grantee organization is the Northern California Institute for Research and Education, and the study is coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute at the University of Southern California. ADNI data are disseminated by the Laboratory for Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California. This study was also funded by NIH P30 AG028383, UH2 NS100606, NR014189, and R01 AG042419.

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The following are available online at http://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/7/170/s1, Table S1: Raw measurements (cubic centimeters) in the three groups for brain and ventricular volume. It is also available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.

brainsci-09-00170-s001.pdf (79 kB)
Supplementary File 1