Vascular Cognitive Impairment and cognitive decline; a longitudinal study comparing different types of vascular brain injury - The TRACE-VCI study

Jooske M. F. Boomsma, Lieza G. Exalto, Frederik Barkhof, Anna E. Leeuwis, Niels D. Prins, Philip Scheltens, Charlotte E. Teunissen, Henry C. Weinstein, Geert Jan Biessels, Wiesje M. van der Flier, On-behalf-of-the-TRACE-VCI-study-group

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Background: Little is known about the trajectories of cognitive decline in relation to different types of vascular brain injury in patients presenting at a memory clinic with Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI). Methods: We included 472 memory clinic patients (age 68 (±8.2) years, 44% female, MMSE 25.9 (±2.8), 210 (44.5%) dementia) from the prospective TRACE-VCI cohort study with possible VCI, defined as cognitive complaints and vascular brain injury on MRI and at least 1 follow-up cognitive assessment (follow-up time 2.5 (±1.4) years, n = 1172 assessments). Types of vascular brain injury considered lacune(s) (≥1; n = 108 patients (23%)), non-lacunar infarct(s) (≥1; n = 54 (11%)), white matter hyperintensities (WMH) (none/mild versus moderate/severe (n = 211 patients (45%)) and microbleed(s) (≥1; n = 202 patients (43%)). We assessed cognitive functioning at baseline and follow-up, including the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT), Trail Making Test (TMT) A and B, category naming task and MMSE. The association of different types of vascular brain injury with cognitive decline was evaluated with linear mixed models, including one type of vascular brain injury (dichotomized), time and vascular brain injury*time, adjusted for sex, age, dementia status (yes/no), education (Verhage scale) and medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA) score (dichotomized as ≥ 1.5). Results: Across the population, performance declined over time on all tests. Linear mixed models showed that lacune(s) were associated with worse baseline TMTA (Beta(SE)) (8.3 (3.8), p = .03) and TMTB (25.6 (10.3), p = .01), albeit with a slower rate of decline on MMSE, RAVLT and category naming. By contrast, patients with non-lacunar infarct(s) showed a steeper rate of decline on TMTB (29.6 (7.7), p = .00), mainly attributable to patients with dementia (62.9 (15.5), p = .00). Conclusion: Although different types of vascular brain injury have different etiologies and different patterns, they show little differences in cognitive trajectories depending on type of vascular brain injury.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100141
JournalCerebral Circulation - Cognition and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Cognitive decline
  • Cognitive trajectories
  • Vascular Cognitive Impairment
  • Vascular brain injury

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