Association of Arterial Spin Labeling Parameters With Cognitive Decline, Vascular Events, and Mortality in a Memory-Clinic Sample


      • What is the primary question addressed by this study?
        To investigate the association between arterial spin labelling (ASL) parameters [cerebral blood flow (CBF) and spatial coefficient of variation (sCoV)] and clinical outcomes in a memory clinic population.
      • What is the main finding of this study?
        Higher baseline gray matter-sCoV was associated with a decline in the memory domain over 3 years of follow-up.
        Participants with higher baseline gray matter-sCoV were at increased risk of vascular events.
      • What is the meaning of the finding?
        This indicates that the cerebrovascular insufficiency may lead to accelerated cognitive decline and worse clinical outcomes in memory clinic participants.



      Cognitive decline in older adults has been attributed to reduced cerebral blood flow (CBF). Recently, the spatial coefficient of variation (sCoV) of ASL has been proposed as a proxy marker of cerebrovascular insufficiency. We investigated the association between baseline ASL parameters with cognitive decline, incident cerebrovascular disease, and risk of vascular events and mortality.

      Design, Setting, and Participants

      About 368 memory-clinic patients underwent three-annual neuropsychological assessments and brain MRI scans at baseline and follow-up. MRIs were graded for white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), cortical infarcts, and intracranial stenosis. Baseline gray (GM) and white matter (WM) CBF and GM-sCoV were obtained with ExploreASL from 2D-EPI pseudo-continuous ASL images. Cognitive assessment was done using a validated neuropsychological battery. Data on incident vascular events (heart disease, stroke, transient ischemic attack) and mortality were obtained.


      Higher baseline GM-sCoV was associated with decline in the memory domain over 3 years of follow-up. Furthermore, higher GM-sCoV was associated with a decline in the memory domain only in participants without dementia. Higher baseline GM-sCoV was associated with progression of WMH and incident CMBs. During a mean follow-up of 3 years, 29 (7.8%) participants developed vascular events and 18 (4.8%) died. Participants with higher baseline mean GM-sCoV were at increased risk of vascular events.


      Higher baseline GM-sCoV of ASL was associated with a decline in memory and risk of cerebrovascular disease and vascular events, suggesting that cerebrovascular insufficiency may contribute to accelerated cognitive decline and worse clinical outcomes in memory clinic participants.

      Key Words

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