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Cerebral ventricular changes associated with transitions between normal cognitive function, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia.


Expansion of the cerebral ventricles may occur at an accelerated rate in subjects with dementia, but the time course of expansion during transitions between normal cognitive function, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and dementia is not well understood. Furthermore, the effects of cardiovascular risk factors on rate of ventricular expansion are unclear. We used a fully automated segmentation technique to measure change rate in lateral ventricle-to-brain ratio (VBR) on 145 longitudinal pairs of magnetic resonance images of subjects in the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study from the Pittsburgh Center. A multivariate model analyzed VBR change rate, accounting for dementia statuses at both imaging times (normal, MCI, or dementia), age, sex, education, race, magnetic resonance-defined infarcts, Center for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale, baseline ventricular volume, and cardiovascular risk factors. VBR change was faster in subjects who were demented or transitioned from MCI to dementia, compared with subjects normal at both images and subjects who transitioned from normal to MCI or dementia. Patients with diabetes had faster VBR change. Ventricular expansion may accelerate late in the progression from normal cognitive function to dementia, and may be modulated by diabetes.

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