Perivascular compartments surrounding the penetrating arteries in the brain are part of a physiologic system, which facilitates fluids exchange and clearance of solutes from the brain. The perivascular compartments become visible on MRI when enlarged and are commonly referred to as perivascular spaces (ePVS). Previous studies on the association between ePVS and dementia have been inconsistent due to varying methods of measuring ePVS. As a frame of reference for future MRI studies on ePVS, we systematically review the literature on ePVS as a marker of vascular brain injury related to dementia from population-based as well as hospital-based settings. We identified three longitudinal and ten cross-sectional studies involving 7,581 persons. Potential outcomes were all-cause dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and vascular dementia. There was considerable heterogeneity in ePVS assessment: with studies using either visual inspection or segmentation, examining different brain locations and implementing different grading scales. Moreover, out of the total of 13 studies, all five studies on vascular dementia reported an association with presence of basal ganglia ePVS after adjustment for age, gender, and white matter hyperintensities. For seven studies on Alzheimer's disease and all-cause dementia, the results were ambiguous. This review did not identify an independent association of ePVS with prevalent or incident dementia. Harmonized methods for ePVS assessment, tested across different populations, may benefit future MRI studies on ePVS and dementia.

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Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
Department of Epidemiology

Smeijer, D. (David), Ikram, K., & Hilal, S. (2019). Enlarged Perivascular Spaces and Dementia: A Systematic Review. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 72(1), 247–256. doi:10.3233/JAD-190527