Objective Silent lacunar infarct (SLI) is associated with cognitive decline and linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia. We examined the association of SLI with MRI measures of cortical thickness, subcortical and lateral ventricular shapes and cognition in 285 ethnic Chinese elderly.
Methods SLI, cortical thickness, shapes of subcortical and ventricular structures were quantified using MRI. The cognitive performance was assessed using comprehensive neuropsychological tests. Linear regression was used to examine associations among SLI, brain measures and cognition.
Results SLI was associated with atrophy in multiple subcortical structures, ventricular enlargement and widespread cortical thinning. Both SLI and atrophy were independently related to poorer performance in attention, memory and language domains. Only SLI was associated with visuomotor speed and executive function, while atrophy mediated the association between SLI and visuoconstruction.
Conclusions Our findings support a vascular contribution to neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment.