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White Matter Hyperintensities Found in Frontotemporal Dementia
February 17, 2021

White matter hyperintensities, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, are found in patients with frontotemporal dementia, according to a study published in Neurology.

“We were expecting to see similar amounts of white matter hyperintensities in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but we actually found higher levels in people with frontotemporal dementia,” said study author Ramón Landin-Romero, PhD, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. “We also expected to see that people with more severe disease would have more white matter hyperintensities, regardless of disease, but that was only true in people with frontotemporal dementia.”

The study involved 64 patients with frontotemporal dementia, 65 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 66 people without dementia who underwent high-resolution brain magnetic resonance imaging, clinical and neuropsychological examination. The participants were followed for an average of 2 years. Autopsy information was available for 13 of the patients with frontotemporal dementia and 5 of the patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The total volume of white matter hyperintensities in the brain was larger in patients with frontotemporal dementia than in those with Alzheimer’s disease or the healthy control group. The average volume of white matter hyperintensities in patients with frontotemporal dementia was 0.76 mL compared with 0.40 mL in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 0.12 mL in people without dementia.

The amount of white matter hyperintensities was associated with the severity of a person’s frontotemporal dementia, including the severity of their symptoms and everyday difficulties, but it was not associated with having vascular risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol as was expected.

“In general, white matter hyperintensities have been associated with these vascular risk factors, so these results suggest that white matter hyperintensities are partly independent of vascular factors and associated with the progressive loss of brain integrity, more specifically the loss of brain cells, due to frontotemporal dementia,” Dr. Landin-Romero said. “White matter hyperintensities should be viewed as a core feature of frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that can contribute to cognitive problems, not simply a marker of vascular disease.”

Reference: https://n.neurology.org/content/early/2021/02/17/WNL.0000000000011638

SOURCE: Neurology