Subclinical cognitive deficits are associated with reduced cerebrovascular response to visual stimulation in mid-sixties men

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Reduced cerebrovascular response to neuronal activation is observed in patients with neurodegenerative disease. In the present study, we examined the correlation between reduced cerebrovascular response to visual activation (ΔCBFVis.Act) and subclinical cognitive deficits in a human population of mid-sixties individuals without neurodegenerative disease. Such a correlation would suggest that impaired cerebrovascular function occurs before overt neurodegenerative disease. A total of 187 subjects (age 64-67 years) of the Metropolit Danish Male Birth Cohort participated in the study. ΔCBFVis.Act was measured using arterial spin labelling (ASL) MRI. ΔCBFVis.Act correlated positively with cognitive performance in: Global cognition (p = 0.046), paired associative memory (p = 0.025), spatial recognition (p = 0.026), planning (p = 0.016), simple processing speed (p < 0.01), and with highly significant correlations with current intelligence (p < 10-5), and more complex processing speed (p < 10-3), the latter two explaining approximately 11-13% of the variance. Reduced ΔCBFVis.Act was independent of brain atrophy. Our findings suggest that inhibited cerebrovascular response to neuronal activation is an early deficit in the ageing brain and associated with subclinical cognitive deficits. Cerebrovascular dysfunction could be an early sign of a trajectory pointing towards the development of neurodegenerative disease. Future efforts should elucidate if maintenance of a healthy cerebrovascular function can protect against the development of dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1905–1923
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022. The Author(s).

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