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Histopathology of diffusion-weighted imaging-positive lesions in cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

Acta Neuropathol. 2020 Feb 27. doi: 10.1007/s00401-020-02140-y. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Ter Telgte A, Scherlek AA, Reijmer YD, van der Kouwe AJ, van Harten T, Duering M, Bacskai BJ, de Leeuw FE, Frosch MP, Greenberg SM, van Veluw SJ.
Publication Date: 2020



Small subclinical hyperintense lesions are frequently encountered on brain diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) scans of patients with cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). Interpretation of these DWI+ lesions, however, has been limited by absence of histopathological examination. We aimed to determine whether DWI+ lesions represent acute microinfarcts on histopathology in brains with advanced CAA, using a combined in vivo MRI-ex vivo MRI-histopathology approach. We first investigated the histopathology of a punctate cortical DWI+ lesion observed on clinical in vivo MRI 7 days prior to death in a CAA case. Subsequently, we assessed the use of ex vivo DWI to identify similar punctate cortical lesions post-mortem. Intact formalin-fixed hemispheres of 12 consecutive cases with CAA and three non-CAA controls were subjected to high-resolution 3 T ex vivo DWI and T2 imaging. Small cortical lesions were classified as either DWI+/T2+ or DWI-/T2+. A representative subset of lesions from three CAA cases was selected for detailed histopathological examination. The DWI+ lesion observed on in vivo MRI could be matched to an area with evidence of recent ischemia on histopathology. Ex vivo MRI of the intact hemispheres revealed a total of 130 DWI+/T2+ lesions in 10/12 CAA cases, but none in controls (p = 0.022). DWI+/T2+ lesions examined histopathologically proved to be acute microinfarcts (classification accuracy 100%), characterized by presence of eosinophilic neurons on hematoxylin and eosin and absence of reactive astrocytes on glial fibrillary acidic protein-stained sections. In conclusion, we suggest that small DWI+ lesions in CAA represent acute microinfarcts. Furthermore, our findings support the use of ex vivo DWI as a method to detect acute microinfarcts post-mortem, which may benefit future histopathological investigations on the etiology of microinfarcts.


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