Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 503–511 | Cite as

The relationship between microvasculature in white matter hyperintensities and cognitive function

  • Jianzhong Sun
  • Xinfeng Yu
  • Yerfan Jiaerken
  • Ruirui Song
  • Peiyu Huang
  • Chao Wang
  • Lixia Yuan
  • Yingying Mao
  • Yang Guo
  • Hualiang Yu
  • Minming Zhang
Original Research


White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are associated with cognitive decline, but less is known about pathophysiology of cognitive decline in patients with WMHs. We investigated microvasculature and microstructure in WMHs using intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) and their associations with cognitive function. Thirty-two subjects with WMHs were enrolled in our study. Fast diffusion coefficient (D*), perfusion fraction (f) and slow diffusion coefficient (D) from IVIM model were compared between regions of WMHs (periventricular WMHs, PWMHs and deep WMHs, DWMHs) and surrounding normal white matter. Multivariate linear model was used to determine the independent factors associated with cognitive function assessed by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the standardized coefficient (β) of factors was estimated. D* was significantly lower (4.95 × 10−3 mm2/s versus 8.36 × 10−3 mm2/s in PWMHs and 5.04 × 10−3 mm2/s versus 8.67 × 10−3 mm2/s in DWMHs, both P < 0.001), and f (14.64 % versus 12.01 % in PWMHs and 14.26 % versus 11.31 % in DWMHs, both P < 0.001) and D (1.02 × 10−3 mm2/s versus 0.73 × 10−3 mm2/s in PWMHs and 0.86 × 10−3 mm2/s versus 0.70 × 10−3 mm2/s in DWMHs, both P < 0.001) were significantly higher in WMHs. Only f in PWMHs was independently associated with MMSE (β = 0.443, P = 0.016). The decreased D* and increased D in WMHs were similar to previous findings. The increased f in PWMHs relating with better cognition provides the pathophysiological basis in understanding cognitive decline in patients with WMHs.


Intravoxel incoherent motion Magnetic resonance imaging Diffusion Perfusion Cerebral small vessel disease 


Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number: LZ14H180001), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number: 81271530) and Health and Family Planning Commission of Zhejiang Province (grant number: 2016154942).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”

Supplementary material

11682_2016_9531_MOESM1_ESM.docx (230 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 229 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyThe 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Engineering and Instrument Science, Key Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering of Education Ministry of ChinaZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyThe 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryThe 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, School of MedicineHangzhouChina

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