Novel imaging markers for altered cerebrovascular morphology in aging, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease

Aditi Deshpande, Jordan Elliott, Nitya Kari, Bin Jiang, Patrik Michel, Nima Toosizadeh, Pouya Tahsili Fahadan, Chelsea Kidwell, Max Wintermark, Kaveh Laksari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Altered brain vasculature is a key phenomenon in several neurologic disorders. This paper presents a quantitative assessment of the anatomical variations in the Circle of Willis (CoW) and vascular morphology in healthy aging, acute ischemic stroke (AIS) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Methods: We used our novel automatic method to segment and extract geometric features of the cerebral vasculature from MR angiography scans of 175 healthy subjects, which were used to create a probabilistic atlas of cerebrovasculature and to study normal aging and intersubject variations in CoW anatomy. Subsequently, we quantified and analyzed vascular alterations in 45AIS and 50 AD patients, two prominent cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. Results: In the sampled cohort, we determined that the CoW is fully formed in only 35% of healthy adults and found significantly (p <.05) increased tortuosity and fractality, with increasing age and also with disease in both AIS and AD. We also found significantly lower vessel length, volume, and number of branches in AIS patients, as expected. The AD cerebral vessels exhibited significantly smaller diameter and more complex branching patterns, compared to age-matched healthy adults. These changes were significantly heightened (p <.05) among healthy, early onset mild AD, and moderate/severe dementia groups. Conclusion: Although our study does not include longitudinal data due to paucity of such datasets, the specific geometric features and quantitative comparisons demonstrate the potential for using vascular morphology as a noninvasive imaging biomarker for neurologic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • aging
  • biomarkers
  • cerebral vasculature
  • imaging
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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