White matter lesion progression: A surrogate endpoint for trials in cerebral small-vessel disease

R. Schmidt, Ph Scheltens, T. Erkinjuntti, L. Pantoni, H. S. Markus, A. Wallin, F. Barkhof, F. Fazekas

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162 Citations (Scopus)


There is neuropathologic evidence that confluent MRI white matter lesions in the elderly reflect ischemic brain damage due to microangiopathy. The authors hypothesize that measuring changes in the progression of white matter lesions as shown by MRI may provide a surrogate marker in clinical trials on cerebral small-vessel disease in which the currently used primary outcomes are cognitive impairment and dementia. This hypothesis is based on evidence that confluent white matter lesions progress rapidly as shown in a recent follow-up study in community-dwelling subjects. The mean increase in lesion volume was 5.2 cm 3 after 3 years. Based on these data in a clinical trial, 195 subjects with confluent lesions would be required per treatment arm to demonstrate a 20% reduction in the rate of disease progression over a 3-year period. Like any other MRI metric, the change in white matter lesion volume cannot be considered preferable to clinical outcomes unless it has been demonstrated that it matters to the patient in terms of function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2004

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