Cardiac and Carotid Markers Link with Accelerated Brain Atrophy: The AGES-Reykjavik Study (Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik)

Behnam Sabayan, Mark A. Van Buchem, Sigurdur Sigurdsson, Qian Zhang, Osorio Meirelles, Tamara B. Harris, Vilmundur Gudnason, Andrew E. Arai, Lenore J. Launer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective - Pathologies in the heart-brain axis might, independently or in combination, accelerate the process of brain parenchymal loss. We aimed to investigate the association of serum N-terminal brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), as a marker of cardiac dysfunction, and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT), as a marker of carotid atherosclerosis burden, with structural brain changes. Approach and Results - In the longitudinal population-based AGES-Reykjavik study (Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik), we included 2430 subjects (mean age, 74.6 years; 41.4% men) with baseline data on NT-proBNP and CITM (assessed by ultrasound imaging). Participants underwent a high-resolution brain magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and 5 years later to assess total brain (TBV), gray matter, and white matter volumes. Each unit higher log-transformed NT-proBNP was associated with 3.6 mL (95% confidence interval [CI], -6.0 to -1.1) decline in TBV and 3.5 mL (95% CI, -5.7 to -1.3) decline in gray matter volume. Likewise, each millimeter higher CIMT was associated with 10.8 mL (95% CI, -17.3 to -4.2) decline in TBV and 8.6 mL (95% CI, -14.4 to -2.8) decline in gray matter volume. There was no association between NT-proBNP and CIMT and changes in white matter volume. Compared with participants with low NT-proBNP and CIMT, participants with both high NT-proBNP and CIMT had 3.8 mL (95% CI, -6.0 to -1.6) greater decline in their TBV and 4 mL (95% CI, -6.0 to -2.0) greater decline in GMW. These associations were independent of sociodemographic and cardiovascular factors. Conclusions - Older subjects with both cardiac dysfunction and carotid atherosclerosis are at an increased risk for brain parenchymal loss. Accumulated pathologies in the heart-brain axis might accelerate brain atrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2246-2251
Number of pages6
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • brain
  • brain natriuretic peptide
  • carotid stenosis
  • gray matter
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this