Vascular risk factors, cerebrovascular reactivity, and the default-mode brain network

Academic Article


  • Cumulating evidence from epidemiologic studies implicates cardiovascular health and cerebrovascular function in several brain diseases in late life. We examined vascular risk factors with respect to a cerebrovascular measure of brain functioning in subjects in mid-life, which could represent a marker of brain changes in later life. Breath-hold functional MRI (fMRI) was performed in 541 women and men (mean age 50.4. years) from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Brain MRI sub-study. Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) was quantified as percentage change in blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in activated voxels, which was mapped to a common brain template and log-transformed. Mean CVR was calculated for anatomic regions underlying the default-mode network (DMN) - a network implicated in AD and other brain disorders - in addition to areas considered to be relatively spared in the disease (e.g. occipital lobe), which were utilized as reference regions. Mean CVR was significantly reduced in the posterior cingulate/precuneus (β. =. -. 0.063, 95% CI: -. 0.106, -. 0.020), anterior cingulate (β. =. -. 0.055, 95% CI: -. 0.101, -. 0.010), and medial frontal lobe (β. =. -. 0.050, 95% CI: -. 0.092, -. 0.008) relative to mean CVR in the occipital lobe, after adjustment for age, sex, race, education, and smoking status, in subjects with pre-hypertension/hypertension compared to normotensive subjects. By contrast, mean CVR was lower, but not significantly, in the inferior parietal lobe (β. =. -. 0.024, 95% CI: -. 0.062, 0.014) and the hippocampus (β. =. -. 0.006, 95% CI: -. 0.062, 0.050) relative to mean CVR in the occipital lobe. Similar results were observed in subjects with diabetes and dyslipidemia compared to those without these conditions, though the differences were non-significant. Reduced CVR may represent diminished vascular functionality for the DMN for individuals with prehypertension/hypertension in mid-life, and may serve as a preclinical marker for brain dysfunction in later life.
  • Published In

  • NeuroImage  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Haight TJ; Bryan RN; Erus G; Davatzikos C; Jacobs DR; D'Esposito M; Lewis CE; Launer LJ
  • Start Page

  • 7
  • End Page

  • 16
  • Volume

  • 115