Background and Purpose This report examines the hypothesis that the higher risk of stroke among Japanese men in Japan compared with those in Hawaii is related to pathology in small intracerebral arteries by comparing the prevalence of such lesions in autopsied participants from two cohorts of Japanese men in Japan and Hawaii. Methods Existing histological sections from the left basal ganglia from 232 men from Japan and 175 men of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii were examined for selected abnormalities in arteries between 100 and 300 pm in diameter by three pathologists. The presence of lacunar infarcts was also noted, and information about cerebral infarcts, cerebral hemorrhages, and atherosclerosis in the circle of Willis was available for the Hawaii group. Results Lacunar infarcts and all small intracerebral artery lesions except medial fibrosis were more common at every age in Japan than in Hawaii. By cause of death, all lesions were three or more times more prevalent among men who died of stroke than of noncardiovascular causes in both areas. In the Hawaii group, the small intracerebral artery lesions were significantly associated with autopsy evidence of cerebral and lacunar infarcts, and with atherosclerosis in the large arteries of the circle of Willis. Among a large number of risk factors measured at the baseline examination in Hawaii, only high blood pressure and reported usual Asian diet were significantly associated with one or more measures of small intracerebral artery lesions. Conclusions An overview of the accumulated data indicated that small intracerebral artery pathology plays an important role in the high risk of stroke in Japanese men in Japan compared with those in Hawaii. These studies support the idea that hypertension is a necessary factor in the causal pathway, but also indicate that some other factors are involved. Some aspect of an Asian diet continues to be of importance for future research.
- Cerebral arteries
- Lacunar infarction