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Genetic associations of leukoaraiosis indicate pathophysiological mechanisms in white matter lesions etiology

Authors
  • Lin, Qing
  • Huang, Wen-Qing
  • Tzeng, Chi-Meng
Type
Published Article
Journal
Reviews in the Neurosciences
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Mar 11, 2015
Volume
26
Issue
3
Pages
343–358
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/revneuro-2014-0082
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Leukoaraiosis (LA), also called white matter lesions (WMLs) and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), is a frequent neuroimaging finding commonly seen on magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of elderly people with prevalence ranging from 50% to 100%. Although it remains asymptomatic, LA is not considered to be benign, and it is showed to be related to a host of poor clinical outcomes and increases the risk of disability, dementia, depression, stroke, and the overall morbidity and mortality. Pathologically, LA is characterized by loss of myelin and axons, patchy demyelination, and denudation of ependyma in regions of WMH. Age and hypertension are the most importantly established risk factors for LA. However, the precise pathogenic mechanisms remain unclear. Together with the previous findings, our recent genetic results strongly supported that LA is associated with immune response and neuroinflammation. Therefore, we confidently hypothesized that LA was not only a common neuroimaging phenomenon in the elderly but also an emerging neuroinflammatory disorder in the central nervous system. This article focusing on neuroimaging classification, genetics basis, and putative molecular mechanism introduced the basic knowledge and current status of LA and put forward some of our research ideas and results from our molecular genetics research, which may pave the way for deciphering the putative pathogenic mechanism, risk factor, epigenetic index, and its application in diagnostic agents or drug target for prevention and treatment. Thus, it could provide clinicians and researchers with a specific and modern overview of LA to enable the understanding of recent progress and future directions in this illness.

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