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Approved Research

The epidemiology of small brain infarcts on MRI: a large-scale population-based UK Biobank study

Principal Investigator: Ms Annemieke ter Telgte
Approved Research ID: 76604
Approval date: February 16th 2023

Lay summary

In about 1% of the general elderly population, recent small infarcts are detected when they undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain. The cause of these brain infarcts is unknown. Over the last years, limited progress has been made in our understanding of the causes of these infarcts, because most studies included only small groups of individuals. It is important to find out the causes of these brain infarcts as without knowing the cause of small brain infarcts, therapies remain absent, and clinicians remain uncertain how to handle such lesions. Furthermore, there are some indications that individuals who have these small brain infarcts have higher risk of suffering from devastating brain disease in the future, such dementia or stroke, or early death.

In this study, we take advantage of the enormous dataset collected by UK Biobank, including MRI scans and clinical data. Using these data, we aim to identify why some individuals have small brain infarcts while others do not. Specifically, we will investigate whether individuals with and individuals without small brain infarcts differ from each other in terms of age and sex, common cardiovascular risk factors (for instance blood pressure, diabetes and cigarette smoking), presence of heart disease, and disease of the large or small blood vessels in the brain and neck. Also, we aim to determine whether individuals with recent small brain infarcts have a higher chance of suffering dementia, stroke or early death in the future. The study is planned for a period of 36 months. It forms a starting point for the development of therapies to treat recent small brain infarcts in the future.