Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The blood-brain barrier protects brain tissue from potentially harmful plasma components. Small vessel disease (SVD; also termed arteriolosclerosis) is common in the brains of older people and is associated with lacunar infarcts, leukoaraiosis, and vascular dementia. To determine whether plasma extravasation is associated with SVD, we immunolabeled the plasma proteins fibrinogen and immunoglobulin G, which are assumed to reflect blood-brain barrier dysfunction, in deep gray matter (DGM; anterior caudate-putamen) and deep subcortical white matter (DWM) in the brains of a well-characterized cohort of donated brains with minimal Alzheimer disease pathology (Braak Stages 0-II) (n = 84; aged 65 years or older). Morphometric measures of fibrinogen labeling were compared between people with neuropathologically defined SVD and aged control subjects. Parenchymal cellular labeling with fibrinogen and immunoglobulin G was detectable in DGM and DWM in many subjects (>70%). Quantitative measures of fibrinogen were not associated with SVD in DGM or DWM; SVD severity was correlated between DGM and DWM (p < 0.0001). Fibrinogen in DGM showed a modest association with a history of hypertension; DWM fibrinogen was associated with dementia and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (all p < 0.05). In DWM, SVD was associated with leukoaraiosis identified in life (p < 0.05), but fibrinogen was not. Our data suggest that, in aged brains, plasma extravasation and hence local blood-brain barrier dysfunction are common but do not support an association with SVD.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuropathol Exp Neurol

Publication Date





1026 - 1033


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arteriolosclerosis, Blood-Brain Barrier, Brain, Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Male, Single-Blind Method