White Matter Hyperintensity Burden Is Associated With Hippocampal Subfield Volume in Stroke


Etherton MR, Fotiadis P, Giese A-K, Iglesias JE, Wu O, Rost NS. White Matter Hyperintensity Burden Is Associated With Hippocampal Subfield Volume in Stroke. Front Neurol 2020;11:588883. Copy at https://tinyurl.com/y8cbfk6e

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White matter hyperintensities of presumed vascular origin (WMH) are a prevalent form of cerebral small-vessel disease and an important risk factor for post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. Despite this prevalence, it is not well understood how WMH contributes to post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. Preliminary findings suggest that increasing WMH volume is associated with total hippocampal volume in chronic stroke patients. The hippocampus, however, is a complex structure with distinct subfields that have varying roles in the function of the hippocampal circuitry and unique anatomical projections to different brain regions. For these reasons, an investigation into the relationship between WMH and hippocampal subfield volume may further delineate how WMH predispose to post-stroke cognitive dysfunction. In a prospective study of acute ischemic stroke patients with moderate/severe WMH burden, we assessed the relationship between quantitative WMH burden and hippocampal subfield volumes. Patients underwent a 3T MRI brain within 2-5 days of stroke onset. Total WMH volume was calculated in a semi-automated manner. Mean cortical thickness and hippocampal volumes were measured in the contralesional hemisphere. Total and subfield hippocampal volumes were measured using an automated, high-resolution, ex vivo computational atlas. Linear regression analyses were performed for predictors of total and subfield hippocampal volumes. Forty patients with acute ischemic stroke and moderate/severe white matter hyperintensity burden were included in this analysis. Median WMH volume was 9.0 cm3. Adjusting for intracranial volume and stroke laterality, age (β = -3.7, P < 0.001), hypertension (β = -44.7, P = 0.04), WMH volume (β = -0.89, P = 0.049), and mean cortical thickness (β = 286.2, P = 0.006) were associated with total hippocampal volume. In multivariable analysis, age (β = -3.3, P < 0.001) and cortical thickness (β = 205.2, P = 0.028) remained independently associated with total hippocampal volume. In linear regression for predictors of hippocampal subfield volume, increasing WMH volume was associated with decreased hippocampal-amygdala transition area volume (β = -0.04, P = 0.001). These finding suggest that in ischemic stroke patients, increased WMH burden is associated with selective hippocampal subfield degeneration in the hippocampal-amygdala transition area.