Cerebral white matter disease is associated with Alzheimer pathology in a prospective cohort

Abhay Moghekar, Michael Kraut, Wendy Elkins, Juan Troncoso, Alan B. Zonderman, Susan M. Resnick, Richard J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected white matter disease has been correlated with cognitive decline in the elderly individuals, it is unclear whether white matter disease is primarily responsible for the cognitive deterioration or whether another process is common to both white matter disease and dementia. Methods: We examined the relationship between Alzheimer-type brain pathology at autopsy and MRI-detected cerebral white matter disease in 50 participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging Autopsy Program, a prospective study of aging that includes detailed cognitive assessments. Results: White matter disease was quantitated in pre- and postmortem MRI scans using the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) criteria in a blinded manner. We found that several measures of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology, including the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease score, Braak score, and a composite AD pathology score, along with hypertension, were significantly associated with CHS white matter score using univariate and multivariate ordinal regression. In contrast, amyloid angiopathy was not independently associated with CHS score. Although a clinical diagnosis of dementia was associated with CHS score in univariate analysis, the association disappeared after accounting for AD pathology. Conclusion: AD pathology at autopsy is associated with MRI-detected cerebral white matter disease. This relationship may explain, in part, the association between cerebral white matter disease and cognitive decline in the elderly individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S71-S77
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Alzheimer's
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Dementia
  • Hypertension
  • MRI
  • White matter disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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