BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: White matter lesions are 1 age-related manifestation of cerebrovascular disease, but subthreshold abnormalities have been identified in nonlesional WM. We hypothesized that structural and physiologic MR imaging findings of early cerebrovascular disease can be measured in middle-aged subjects in tissue adjacent to WM lesions, termed “penumbra.” MATERIALS AND METHODS: WM lesions were defined using automated segmentation in 463 subjects, 43–56 years of age, from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) longitudinal observational cohort study. We described 0- to 2-mm and 2- to 4-mm-thick spatially defined penumbral WM tissue ROIs as rings surrounding WM lesions. The remaining WM was defined as distant normal-appearing WM. Mean signal intensities were measured for FLAIR, T1-, and T2-weighted images, and from fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, CBF, and vascular reactivity maps. Group comparisons were made using Kruskal-Wallis and pair-wise t tests. RESULTS: Lesion volumes averaged 0.738 0.842 cm3 (range, 0.005–7.27 cm3). Mean signal intensity for FLAIR, T2, and mean diffusivity was increased, while T1, fractional anisotropy, and CBF were decreased in white matter lesions versus distant normal-appearing WM, with penumbral tissues showing graded intermediate values (corrected P .001 for all group/parameter comparisons). Vascular reactivity was significantly elevated in white matter lesions and penumbral tissue compared with distant normal-appearing white matter (corrected P .001). CONCLUSIONS: Even in relatively healthy 43- to 56-year-old subjects with small white matter lesion burden, structural and functional MR imaging in penumbral tissue reveals significant signal abnormalities versus white matter lesions and other normal WM. Findings suggest that the onset of WM injury starts by middle age and involves substantially more tissue than evident from focal white matter lesions visualized on structural imaging.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Observational Study
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
- Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.