Microscopic blood vessel disease in the brains white matter associated with worse cognition in Alzheimers

Disease of the microscopic blood vessels that feed the white matter of our brain is associated with worse cognitive function and memory deficits in individuals with Alzheimer’s, scientists report.

“The main message of this paper is the mixed pathology as we call it — microvascular disease and Alzheimer’s — is associated with more brain damage, more white matter damage and more inflammation,” says Dr. Zsolt Bagi, vascular biologist in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Theirs and other recent findings suggest that some people with Alzheimer’s who have brain changes widely associated with the condition, like amyloid plaques, may not develop dementia without this underlying vascular dysfunction, the researchers write in the journal GeroScience.

“We are proposing that if you prevent development of the microvascular component, you may at least add several years of more normal functioning to individuals with Alzheimer’s,” Bagi says.

He and by Dr. Stephen Back, pediatric neurologist, Clyde and Elda Munson Professor of Pediatric Research and an expert in white matter injury and repair in the developing and adult brain at Oregon Health & Science University, are co-corresponding authors of the new study.

The good news is that vascular disease is potentially modifiable, Bagi says, by reducing major contributors like hypertension, obesity, diabetes and inactivity.

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