News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 17, 2017

MRI Study Links Brain Damage to Heart Disease Protein

Netherlands study finds increased levels of NT-proBNP could act as a biomarker for brain damage

MRI, brain damage, heart disease protein, NT-proBNP, Radiology journal

February 17, 2017 — Levels of a protein in the blood associated with heart disease are also linked to early-stage brain damage, according to a study appearing online in the journal Radiology.

Heart disease and brain disease exact a major burden on society, and the incidence is expected to increase significantly due to the rapidly aging population. Damage to both organs often occur at a subclinical stage, or before signs and symptoms of disease are evident. A substance, or marker, in the blood indicative of subclinical heart disease and brain diseases like stroke and dementia could speed the initiation of treatments and lifestyle changes, potentially slowing or even reversing the disease’s course.

One promising marker is N-terminal Pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), a protein released into the blood in response to cardiac wall stress. Blood serum levels of NT-proBNP rise when heart failure worsens and drop when it gets better. While previous studies have shown a link between heart disease and brain disease, less is known about the association between NT-proBNP and the entire spectrum of imaging markers of subclinical brain damage, like brain volume and white matter integrity.

Researchers from the Netherlands recently investigated this association in 2,397 community-dwelling middle-aged and elderly non-demented people without a clinical diagnosis of heart disease. The patients were drawn from the landmark Rotterdam Study, an ongoing, population-based study of more than 10,000 people from a suburb of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

When the researchers compared serum levels of NT-proBNP with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, they discovered a clear association between higher NT-proBNP levels and brain damage.

“We found that higher serum levels of NT-proBNP were associated with smaller brain volumes, in particular with smaller gray matter volume, and with poorer organization of the brain’s white matter,” said Meike W. Vernooij, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a neuroradiologist at Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam.

The findings imply a close link between the heart and brain even in presumably healthy individuals, Vernooij said.

There are several hypotheses to explain the link between cardiac dysfunction and subclinical brain damage, according to Vernooij. For instance, decreases in blood flow could lead to cerebral microvascular damage or problems in the function of the blood-brain barrier, a network of blood vessels that allow essential nutrients into the brain while blocking potentially harmful substances. Inflammatory factors associated with cardiac stress could also harm the barrier, leading to increased permeability and damage to the brain.

While NT-proBNP is currently used in a clinical setting to rule out heart failure, it is too early to say if it can play a similar role for subclinical brain damage, as the new study only looked at people at one point in time.

“We cannot rule out that the observed subclinical brain damage led to increased levels of NT-proBNP,” Vernooij said. “However, from a biological perspective, and based on animal studies, it is more likely that cardiac dysfunction affects brain changes rather than vice versa.”

Further research, including follow-up brain MRI studies and measurements of NT-proBNP, will be needed to clarify the relationship between cardiac dysfunction and subclinical brain disease, the researchers said.

For more information: www.pubs.rsna.org/journal/radiology

References

Zonneveld, H.I., Ikram, M.A., Hofman, A., Niessen, W.J., et al. "N-Terminal Pro–B-Type Natriuretic Peptide and Subclinical Brain Damage in the General Population," Radiology. Published online Dec. 7, 2016. DOI: 10.1148/radiol.2016160548

Related Content

Ingenia Ambition X 1.5T MR. This innovation is the latest advance in the Ingenia MRI portfolio, which comprises fully-digital MRI systems, healthcare informatics and a range of maintenance and life cycle services for integrated solutions that empower a faster, smarter, and simpler path to enabling a confident diagnosis
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | September 14, 2018
Philips, a global leader in health technology, launched the Ingenia Ambition X 1.5T MR.
Veye Chest version 2
News | Lung Cancer | September 11, 2018
Aidence, an Amsterdam-based medical AI company, announced that Veye Chest version 2, a class IIa medical device, has
Sponsored Content | Case Study | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | September 07, 2018 | By Sabine Sartoretti, M.D.
As soon as the Compressed SENSE technology became available to the MRI team at Kantonsspital Winterthur (Switzerland),...

Image courtesy of Philips Healthcare

Feature | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | September 06, 2018 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
According to the Prescient & Strategic Intelligence report, “Global Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Market Size,...
PET Imaging Agent Predicts Brain Tau Pathology, Alzheimer's Diagnosis
News | PET Imaging | September 05, 2018
Eli Lilly and Co. and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. announced a Phase 3 study of positron emission tomography (PET)...
Check-Cap Announces Interim Results of European Study of C-Scan System Version 3
News | Colonoscopy Systems | September 04, 2018
Check-Cap Ltd. announced the interim results for its post-CE approval study of the C-Scan system Version 3, an...
Brain Iron Levels May Predict Multiple Sclerosis Disabilities
News | Neuro Imaging | August 31, 2018
A new, highly accurate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique can monitor iron levels in the brains of multiple...
Study Finds Multiple Sclerosis Drug Slows Brain Shrinkage

An NIH-funded clinical trial suggested that the anti-inflammatory drug ibudilast may slow brain shrinkage caused by progressive MS. Image courtesy of Robert J. Fox, M.D., Cleveland Clinic.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 30, 2018
August 30, 2018 — Results from a clinical...
Rapid Cardiac MRI Technique May Cut Costs, Boost Care in Developing World
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 29, 2018
A newly developed rapid imaging protocol quickly and cheaply diagnosed heart ailments in patients in Peru, according to...
iSchemaView RAPID Technology Now Installed in More Than 500 Stroke Centers
News | Neuro Imaging | August 27, 2018
iSchemaView announced that more than 575 stroke centers in 22 countries have selected the RAPID advanced imaging...
Overlay Init