Association of white matter microstructural integrity with cognition and dementia

Melinda C. Power, Dan Su, Aozhou Wu, Robert I. Reid, Clifford R. Jack, David S. Knopman, Joe Coresh, Juebin Huang, Kejal Kantarci, A. Richey Sharrett, Rebecca G. Gottesman, Mike E. Griswold, Thomas H. Mosley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Late-life measures of white matter (WM) microstructural integrity may predict cognitive status, cognitive decline, and incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. We considered participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study who underwent cognitive assessment and neuroimaging in 2011–2013 and were followed through 2016–2017 (n = 1775 for analyses of prevalent MCI and dementia, baseline cognitive performance, and longitudinal cognitive change and n = 889 for analyses of incident MCI, dementia, or death). Cross-sectionally, both overall WM fractional anisotropy and overall WM mean diffusivity were strongly associated with baseline cognitive performance and risk of prevalent MCI or dementia. Longitudinally, greater overall WM mean diffusivity was associated with accelerated cognitive decline, as well as incident MCI, incident dementia, and mortality, but WM fractional anisotropy was not robustly associated with cognitive change or incident cognitive impairment. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal associations were attenuated after additionally adjusting for likely downstream pathologic changes. Increased WM mean diffusivity may provide an early indication of dementia pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of aging
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Cognitive decline
  • Cognitive impairment
  • DTI
  • Dementia
  • MRI
  • White matter microstructural integrity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • General Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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