Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Decreased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and albuminuria may be accompanied by brain pathology. Here we investigated whether changes in these kidney measures are linked to development of new MRI-detected infarcts and microbleeds, and progression of white matter hyperintensity volume. The study included 2671 participants from the population-based AGES-Reykjavik Study (mean age 75, 58.7% women). GFR was estimated from serum creatinine, and albuminuria was assessed by urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio. Brain MRI was acquired at baseline (2002-2006) and 5 years later (2007-2011). New MRI-detected infarcts and microbleeds were counted on the follow-up scans. White matter hyperintensity progression was estimated as percent change in white matter hyperintensity volumes between the two exams. Participants with a large eGFR decline (over 3 ml/min per 1.73m2 per year) had more incident subcortical infarcts (odds ratio 1.53; 95% confidence interval 1.05, 2.22), and more marked progression of white matter hyperintensity volume (difference: 8%; 95% confidence interval: 4%, 12%), compared to participants without a large decline. Participants with incident albuminuria (over 30 mg/g) had 21% more white matter hyperintensity volume progression (95% confidence interval: 14%, 29%) and 1.86 higher odds of developing new deep microbleeds (95% confidence interval 1.16, 2.98), compared to participants without incident albuminuria. The findings were independent of cardiovascular risk factors. Changes in kidney measures were not associated with occurrence of cortical infarcts. Thus, larger changes in eGFR and albuminuria are associated with increased risk for developing manifestations of cerebral small vessel disease. Individuals with larger changes in these kidney measures should be considered as a high risk population for accelerated brain pathology.