BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The presence of cerebral microbleeds has been associated with dementia and cognitive decline, although studies report conflicting results. Our aim was to determine the potential role of the presence and location of cerebral microbleeds in early stages of cognitive decline.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Baseline 3T MR imaging examinations including SWI sequences of 328 cognitively intact community-dwelling controls and 72 subjects with mild cognitive impairment were analyzed with respect to the presence and distribution of cerebral microbleeds. A neuropsychological follow-up of controls was performed at 18 months post inclusion and identified cases with subtle cognitive deficits were referred to as controls with a deteriorating condition. Group differences in radiologic parameters were studied by using nonparametric tests, 1-way analysis of variance, and Spearman correlation coefficients.
RESULTS: Cerebral microbleed prevalence was similar in subjects with mild cognitive impairment and controls with stable and cognitively deteriorating conditions (25%-31.9%). In all diagnostic groups, lobar cerebral microbleeds were more common. They occurred in 20.1% of all cases compared with 6.5% of cases with deep cerebral microbleeds. None of the investigated variables (age, sex, microbleed number, location and depth, baseline Mini-Mental State Examination score, and the Fazekas score) were significantly associated with cognitive deterioration with the exception of education of >12 years showing a slight but significant protective effect (OR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.22-0.92; P = .028). The Mini-Mental State Examination and the Buschke total score were correlated with neither the total number nor lobar-versus-deep location of cerebral microbleeds.
CONCLUSIONS: Cerebral microbleed presence, location, and severity are not related to the early stages of cognitive decline in advanced age.
2017. Vol. 38, 39-45 p.