White matter hyperintensity regression: Comparison of brain atrophy and cognitive profiles with progression and stable groups

Omar M. Al-Janabi, Christopher E. Bauer, Larry B. Goldstein, Richard R. Murphy, Ahmed A. Bahrani, Charles D. Smith, Donna M. Wilcock, Brian T. Gold, Gregory A. Jicha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Subcortical white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in the aging population frequently represent vascular injury that may lead to cognitive impairment. WMH progression is well described, but the factors underlying WMH regression remain poorly understood. A sample of 351 participants from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 2 (ADNI2) was explored who had WMH volumetric quantification, structural brain measures, and cognitive measures (memory and executive function) at baseline and after approximately 2 years. Selected participants were categorized into three groups based on WMH change over time, including those that demonstrated regression (n = 96; 25.5%), stability (n = 72; 19.1%), and progression (n = 209; 55.4%). There were no significant differences in age, education, sex, or cognitive status between groups. Analysis of variance demonstrated significant differences in atrophy between the progression and both regression (p = 0.004) and stable groups (p = 0.012). Memory assessments improved over time in the regression and stable groups but declined in the progression group (p = 0.003; p = 0.018). WMH regression is associated with decreased brain atrophy and improvement in memory performance over two years compared to those with WMH progression, in whom memory and brain atrophy worsened. These data suggest that WMHs are dynamic and associated with changes in atrophy and cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • ADNI
  • Brain atrophy
  • Cognition
  • Stable WMH
  • WMH progression
  • WMH regression
  • White matter hyperintensities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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