Using data from 9722 Biobank participants, aged 44-79 years, the authors studied the association between multiple vascular risk factors (VRF) and brain micro/macrostructure. The effect sizes were small but higher levels of VRFs were associated with poorer grey and white macrostructure and microstructure and the effects were additive. The brain areas most strongly affected were those previously linked with ‘typical’ Alzheimer’s Disease, and with more complex cognitive functions. These results suggest that even in otherwise healthy participants, and even in middle age, the brain is vulnerable to VRFs, and that cognitive decline could be partly ameliorated by addressing malleable VRFs.
Vascular risk, Brain, MRI, Diffusion, White matter, Cortex