Background-White matter hyperintensities (WMH), patchy areas of hyperintense signal on T2-weighted or Fluid Attenuated Inversion Recovery sequences on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are believed to reflect cerebral burden of ischemic damage and are associated to incident stroke, dementia and eventually mortality in otherwise healthy subjects. Also brain atrophy has been related with presence of carotid atherosclerosis and vascular cognitive impairment. Carotid atherosclerosis may contribute to the genesis of WMH. A recent meta-analysis by our group comprising 5306 subjects was able to demonstrate an association between the presence of carotid atherosclerosis and WMH (odds ratio, OR, 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22-1.66).
Objective-To evaluate the relation between carotid artery plaque characteristics, cardiovascular risk factors and brain atrophy/WMH burden analyzed quantitatively as number and volume of lesions and as brain volumes, and progression over 18 months of follow up in subjects asymptomatic for cerebrovascular disease with a carotid artery stenosis <70%.
- Ischemic stroke and vascular cognitive impairment pose a massive clinical, social and economic burden. Disruption of carotid plaques, often non-obstructive, with subsequent thrombosis and distal embolization is one of leading pathogenetic mechanism of ischemic stroke. The widespread use of brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has enabled an increased recognition, especially in elderly subjects, of cerebral alterations in apparently healthy individuals.
- Carotid plaque may be causative in the development of white matter hyperintensities (WMH, patchy areas of signal hyperintensity on T2-weighted and/or fluid attenuated inversion recovery -FLAIR- sequences), silent brain infarcts (SBI) and eventually brain atrophy.
- The hypothesis of the investigators is that carotid plaques with features of vulnerability detected by multimodality imaging (including standard ultrasound, contrast enhanced ultrasound -CEUS-, contrast enhanced CT angiography) and larger extent of atherosclerotic process, even if determining only an intermediate degree of stenosis, could bear a more rapid progression of silent WMH and brain atrophy.
- Carotid CT and CEUS allow fast and reproducible evaluation of plaque size and morphology, alongside with functional parameters. Plaque density and positive remodelling on CT have been repeatedly associated to histological features of plaque vulnerability. At the same time, when compared to standard duplex evaluation, CEUS allowed a better imaging definition of plaque margins and extension, and to evaluate intraplaque neovascularization. The latter associates with local inflammation and plaque vulnerability, and might give rise to plaque hematomas, which are among the substrates for lesion progression and for the development of atherothrombosis.
- In the initial phase of the study also hybrid imaging with positron tomography and computed tomography angiography (PET/CTA) using 11C-PK11195 was used to detect and quantify intraplaque inflammation in humans.(7) C-PK11195 is a selective ligand for translocator protein, 18kDa (TSPO), which is highly expressed on the surface of activated monocytes/macrophages. This part of the study was prematurely stopped due to problems with the production of the radiotracer with 11[C] (only 13 patients were studied with this approach).
- The primary endpoint is to identify independent predictors (plaque-related or patient-related) with the progression of WMH through multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Progression of WMH was considered as dichotomous variable: progression versus no progression of WMH.
- The co-primary end-point is to identify independent predictors (plaque-related or patient-related) with the progression of gray matter (GM)/all brain atrophy through multivariable logistic regression analysis. Progression of brain atrophy was considered as dichotomous variable: progression versus no progression of GM/all brain atrophy.
The investigators calculated the sample size for multivariate logistic regression analysis with a power of 0.8 and an alpha of 0.05. The investigators will analyze the highest tertile of carotid plaques burden in terms of plaque volume versus others (see Sillesen, 2012). By definition, the prevalence of high burden atherosclerosis will be 33%. The investigators estimated a clinically relevant probability of progressing in terms of WMH in the high burden group to be 50%, while subjects without high burden plaques are estimated to progress in terms of WMH as the general population with carotid atherosclerosis in a similar time frame. This probability would be estimated to be around 15% (see Dufoil, 2005 and Pico, 2002). The estimated sample size would be 58 individuals.
- Visipaque 320 and SonoVue Drug
Other Names: Contrast agents Intervention Desc: Intervention is related to the administration of contrast agents: Iodixanol, 320 mg of iodine per millilitre, Visipaque 320 (GE Healthcare, Milwaukee, WI, USA) for contrast-enahnced CTA, Sodium hexafluoride (SonoVue, Bracco Imaging, Milan, Italy) for CEUS ARM 1: Kind: Experimental Label: Carotid imaging with Visipaque 320 and SonoVue Description: Patients undergo to brain MRI, carotid contrast-enhanced CTA, duplex ultrasound, CEUS, blood sampling, clinical structured interview. Intervention is related to the administration of contrast agents: Visipaque 320 for contrast-enhanced CTA, and SonoVue for CEUS
|Type||Measure||Time Frame||Safety Issue|
|Primary||Changes of total cerebral white matter lesions from baseline (T2-weight lesions, in terms of number and total volumes indexed to the total brain volume)||18 months|
|Secondary||Changes of total brain volume and grey matter volume from baseline||18 months|
|Secondary||Changes of ipsilateral cerebral white matter lesions from baseline (T2-weight lesions, in terms of number and total volumes indexed to the total brain volume)||18 months|
|Secondary||Changes of the carotid total plaque area and extent of CEUS positive plaques||18 months|
|Secondary||Compare the esteem of the degree and the characteristics of the main plaque with standard Duplex scan versus CEUS using contrast enhanced carotid CT scan as gold standard||at baseline|
- Enrico Ammirati Lead