Macro- and microvascular contributions to cerebral structural alterations in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis

Lena Schmitzer, Stephan Kaczmarz, Jens Göttler, Gabriel Hoffmann, Michael Kallmayer, Hans Henning Eckstein, Dennis Martin Hedderich, Jan Kufer, Claus Zimmer, Christine Preibisch, Fahmeed Hyder, Nico Sollmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atherosclerosis can underly internal carotid artery stenosis (ICAS), a major risk factor for ischemic stroke, as well as small vessel disease (SVD). This study aimed to investigate hemodynamics and structural alterations associated with SVD in ICAS patients. 28 patients with unilateral asymptomatic ICAS and 30 age-matched controls underwent structural (T1-/T2-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging [DTI]) and hemodynamic (pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling and dynamic susceptibility contrast) magnetic resonance imaging. SVD-related alterations were assessed using free water (FW), FW-corrected DTI, and peak-width of skeletonized mean diffusivity (PSMD). Furthermore, cortical thickness, cerebral blood flow (CBF), and capillary transit time heterogeneity (CTH) were analyzed. Ipsilateral to the stenosis, cortical thickness was significantly decreased in the posterior dorsal cingulate cortex (p = 0.024) and temporal pole (p = 0.028). ICAS patients exhibited elevated PSMD (p = 0.005), FW (p < 0.001), and contralateral alterations in FW-corrected DTI metrics. We found significantly lateralized CBF (p = 0.011) and a tendency for lateralized CTH (p = 0.067) in the white matter (WM) related to ICAS. Elevated PSMD and FW may indicate a link between SVD and WM changes. Contralateral alterations were seen in FW-corrected DTI, whereas hemodynamic and cortical changes were mainly ipsilateral, suggesting SVD might influence global brain changes concurrent with ICAS-related hemodynamic alterations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymptomatic internal carotid artery stenosis
  • arterial spin labeling
  • cerebrovascular disease
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • small vessel disease


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