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Novel cerebral small vessel disease markers and their contribution to cognitive impairment and dementia

Novel cerebral small vessel disease markers and their contribution to cognitive impairment and dementia

Principal Investigator: Dr Claudia Satizabal
Approved Research ID: 58341
Approval date: March 4th 2020

Lay summary

Cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) is a blanket term that describes diseases affecting the small vessel in the brain. CSVD can be observed using cutting-edge neuroimaging, which is used to generate biological markers of the disease. CVSD is believed to account for up to 45% of all dementias (i.e. vascular dementia), 20% of all strokes, and has been associated with cognitive impairment, changes in gait, depression, and death.

We aim to use advanced neuroimaging methods to develop more precise markers for cognitive impairment and dementia. These imaging methods are not currently performed by clinical centers but show promise as early indicators of cognitive impairment and dementia. Applied broadly, these markers will be critical to identify persons at risk and before the onset of disease, when preventive or therapeutic strategies are more likely to be effective. Additionally, the study of the genetic variants related to CSVD can aid in identifying biological processes leading to disease. It is especially important to identify variants associated with vascular dementia because the underlying mechanisms of vascular dementia are poorly understood.

Our institute is a leader in developing and implementing methods to examine neuroimaging, genomic, and environmental risk factors for age-related diseases. The UK biobank is ideal for the proposed research because it provides a large, diverse, and well-characterized population. This will allow us to better understand the applicability of our preliminary observations in the Framingham Heart Study, as well as novel drivers of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia.

Within 1 year of receipt of UK biobank data, Free Water and PMSD will be calculated. In the following 2 years, we will be dedicated to investigate their lifestyle and genetic determinants and to assess their association with cognition, dementia, and comparisons by ethnicity.