Mobility decline in the elderly relates to lesion accrual in the splenium of the corpus callosum

Nicola Moscufo, Leslie Wolfson, Dominik Meier, Maria Liguori, Peter G. Hildenbrand, Dorothy Wakefield, Julia A. Schmidt, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Charles R.G. Guttmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In a previous cross-sectional study on baseline data, we demonstrated that the volume of brain white matter hyperintensities (WMH) in the splenium of corpus callosum (SCC) predicted the current mobility function of older persons. The primary aim of this follow-up study was to determine the relation of WMH volume change in SCC (SCC-ΔWMH) with change in mobility measures. A secondary aim was to characterize the global and regional progression of WMH. Mobility function and WMH burden were evaluated at baseline and at 2 years in 77 community-dwelling individuals (baseline age, 82±4). Regional WMH in SCC, as well as genu and body of corpus callosum, subregions of corona radiata, and superior longitudinal fasciculus were determined using a white matter parcellation atlas. The total WMH volume increased 3.3±3.5 ml/year, mainly through enlargement. Significant WMH increases were observed in all selected regions, particularly within the corona radiata. While at baseline and follow-up we observed correlations between WMH burden and several measures of mobility, longitudinal change correlated only with change in chair rise (CR). SCC-ΔWMH showed the highest correlation (r=-0.413, p=0.0002) and was the best regional predictor of CR decline (OR=1.5, r2=0.3). The SCC-ΔWMH was more than five times larger in the CR-decline group compared to the no-decline group (p=0.0003). The SCC-ΔWMH (top quartile) showed a higher sensitivity/specificity for CR decline compared to change in total WMH, 63/88% versus 52/84%, respectively. The findings suggest that accrual of WMHs in posterior areas of the brain supporting inter-hemispheric integration and processing of visual-spatial information is a mechanism contributing to age-related mobility deterioration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mobility
  • Splenium of corpus callosum
  • White matter hyperintensities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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