Regional white matter hyperintensities in posterior cortical atrophy and logopenic progressive aphasia

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Background: White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are markers of cerebral small vessel disease and have been associated with higher risk of typical amnestic Alzheimer’s disease (AD), however, little is known about the role of WMHs in atypical variants of AD. This study aimed to determine the frequency and distribution of WMH in two atypical variants of AD: logopenic progressive aphasia (LPA) and posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), and determine whether WMH are associated with demographic and clinical outcomes in these cohorts. Method: Seventy-five LPA and 39 PCA patients were recruited by the Neurodegenerative Research Group and underwent two- dimensional fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRI and Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) PET. All patients were PiB-positive. All FLAIR images were segmented using an in-house software, then were manually edited by a trained imaging analyst. WMH volume was scaled by total intracranial volume to correct for differences in head size. Adjusted WMH burdens were compared between LPA and PCA, and associations were assessed between WMH burden and age, global PiB standard uptake value ratios (SUVRs), and clinical metrics, including tests of general cognitive impairment, executive function, naming, repetition, visuospatial and visuoperceptual function, and parkinsonism. Associations between WMHs and clinical scores were adjusted for age and brain volume to correct for atrophy. Result: Total WMH burden was similar in PCA and LPA, however, regional differences were identified with PCA having greater subcortical WMH burden in right occipital, parietal, and temporal lobes compared to LPA, and LPA having greater WMH burden in left deep grey and white matter and greater subcortical burden in left parietal lobe compared to PCA. Total WMH burden was greater with older age in both groups but was not related to global PiB SUVR either globally or locally. Greater total WMH was associated with visuoperceptual performance in both cohorts after correcting for atrophy. When assessed regionally, visuoperceptual performance was associated with right subcortical occipital WMH across the cohort. Conclusion: Regional distribution of WMHs differ across clinical variants of atypical AD and WMHs may impact clinical outcomes, although further work is needed to determine whether they reflect cerebrovascular disease or regionally specific neurodegenerative changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere064596
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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