Background: Phenotypic expressions of arterial disease vary throughout the body and it is not clear to what extent systemic atherosclerosis influences brain arterial remodeling. We aim to test the hypothesis that systemic atherosclerosis is associated with brain arterial diameters. Methods: Stroke-free participants in the Northern Manhattan Study MRI subcohort in whom carotid ultrasound, transthoracic echocardiogram, and brain MRA (n = 482) were performed were included in this analysis. Brain arterial diameters were measured with semi-automated software as continuous and categorical variables. Ultrasound and echocardiography provided the sum of maximum carotid plaque thickness (sMCPT) and aortic plaque thickness. Associations between brain arterial diameters and aortic and carotid plaque thickness were assessed with semi-parametric generalized additive models. Results: Aortic plaque thickness was inversely and linearly associated with brain arterial diameters (B per mm = -0.073 ± 0.034, p = 0.03), while sMCPT was associated nonlinearly in a u-shaped curve with anterior brain arterial diameters (spline regression χ2 = 9.19, p = 0.02). Coexisting carotid and aortic atherosclerosis were more prevalent in participants with small luminal diameters (40%) compared with participants with average (30%) or with large (13%) luminal diameters, while carotid atherosclerosis without aortic atherosclerosis was more prevalent among participants with large luminal diameters (31%) compared with those with average (12%) or small luminal diameters (2%, p < 0.001 for both trends). Conclusions: We confirmed the hypothesis that systemic arterial disease is associated with brain arterial diameters. Gaining knowledge about the origin of these phenotypic expressions of atherosclerosis in the human body may lead to a better understanding of the cerebrovascular consequences of the systemic arterial disease.
- Carotid artery disease
- Intracranial arterial stenosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine