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Keywords:

  • age-related white matter lesions;
  • cerebellum;
  • diffusion

Cerebellar apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was found to be increased after acute cerebral hemispheric stroke. There are no data on cerebellar ADC changes in patients with chronic, age-related white matter lesions (ARWML). We aimed to determine longitudinal ADC variations on cerebral hemispheric and cerebellar white matter regions of patients with ARWML in order to study relations between ADC changes in both regions. ADC was measured serially (1-year interval) on lesioned periventricular frontal white matter, frontal and parietoccipital normal appearing white matter and middle cerebellar peduncles, on 19 aged patients with ARWML, which also underwent gait assessment. We compared regional ADC at 0 and 1 year and calculated variation percentages for each region. Correlation analysis was made between ADC variation in cerebellar regions and in contralateral hemispheric regions and between cerebellar ADC at 1 year and walking speed. After 1 year, ADC was higher on lesioned periventricular frontal white matter and lower on cerebellar regions. ADC variations on these regions were negatively correlated. Cerebellar ADC measured after 1 year was positively correlated with walking speed. This suggests a link between vascular disease progression inside frontal lesions and ADC reduction in contralateral cerebellar peduncles. Chronic ischemia in frontal white matter could have interrupted frontal-cerebellar circuits, producing hypometabolism in cerebellar regions (and worse performance on motor tasks), decreased perfusion and hence ADC reduction.