One implication of the study results is that preventing formation of thrombogenic microvesicles may reduce the burden of WMH.
By Michael Smith, MedPage Today
The blood of healthy postmenopausal women may offer signs of increased risk of small areas of brain damage, dubbed white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Which have been linked to memory loss, researchers reported.
Women who began with higher levels of thrombogenic microvesicles were more likely to have greater volumes of WMH 4 years later. According to Kejal Kantarci, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, and colleagues.
One implication is that preventing formation of thrombogenic microvesicles may reduce the burden of WMH. This has been associated with memory loss and the risk of stroke, Kantarci and colleagues argued in the Feb. 13 issue of Neurology.
And may affect the brain’s microstructure along with conventional risk factors such as hypertension, age, and smoking.
“This study suggests that these microvesicles in the blood may contribute to the development of white matter hyperintensities in women who have recently gone through menopause,” Kantarci said in a statement.
“Preventing the platelets from developing these microvesicles could be a way to stop the progression of white matter hyperintensities in the brain,” she added.
The effects of WMH have been conducted in older and mainly male groups. So Kantarci and colleagues analyzed members of a cohort of recently menopausal women enrolled in a randomized trial of hormone therapy.
At baseline, the researchers measured conventional cardiovascular risk factors, carotid intima-media thickness. And coronary arterial calcification, plasma lipids, markers of platelet activation, and numbers of thrombogenic microvesicles.
They correlated those with changes in WMH volume, adjusting for age, months past menopause. And whether or not participants had the APOE e4 gene, which is associated with Alzheimer’s risk.
All told, 95 women (average age 53) were included in the analysis. All had at least some WMH at baseline, with an average of 0.88% of the total white matter volume, Kantarci and colleagues reported.
The 36- and 48-month levels were significantly correlated (P=0.03) with the numbers of platelet-derived and total thrombogenic microvesicles observed at baseline. Although not with most other measured risk factors.
“Neither smoking status nor the history of medication-controlled migraines modified the WMH load and longitudinal change in WMH volume at the specified time points (P>0.05),” the authors explained.
But they cautioned that there might be several unexamined mechanisms, such as genetic variation, underlying the progression of WMH.
They also noted that the study population consists of healthy, well-educated and mostly nonsmoking women. So the results may not reflect the general postmenopausal population.
Finally, the findings need to be confirmed in a larger and longer study.