Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics such as fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) have been proposed as clinical trial markers of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) due to their associations with outcomes such as cognition. However, studies investigating this have been predominantly single-centre. As clinical trials are likely to be multisite, further studies are required to determine whether associations with cognition of similar strengths can be detected in a multicentre setting. One hundred and nine patients (mean age =68 years) with symptomatic lacunar infarction and confluent white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on MRI was recruited across six sites as part of the PRESERVE DTI substudy. After handling missing data, 3T-MRI scanning was available from five sites on five scanner models (Siemens and Philips), alongside neuropsychological and quality of life (QoL) assessments. FA median and MD peak height were extracted from DTI histogram analysis. Multiple linear regressions were performed, including normalized brain volume, WMH lesion load, and n° lacunes as covariates, to investigate the association of FA and MD with cognition and QoL. DTI metrics from all white matter were significantly associated with global cognition (standardized β =0.268), mental flexibility (β =0.306), verbal fluency (β =0.376), and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) (β =0.273). The magnitudes of these associations were comparable with those previously reported from single-centre studies found in a systematic literature review. In this multicentre study, we confirmed associations between DTI parameters and cognition, which were similar in strength to those found in previous single-centre studies. The present study supports the use of DTI metrics as biomarkers of disease progression in multicentre studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Sci (Lond)

Publication Date





1361 - 1373


biomarkers, cerebral small vessel disease, clinical trials, cognition, diffusion tensor imaging, Aged, Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases, Cognition, Cognition Disorders, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Disease Progression, England, Female, Humans, Leukoencephalopathies, Linear Models, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Microvessels, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Predictive Value of Tests, Quality of Life, Stroke, Lacunar, Surveys and Questionnaires