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© 2019 The Authors Background: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is an intermediate state between normal cognition and dementia that is associated with twice the risk of falls. It is unknown whether white matter integrity (WMI) is associated with increased risk of falls in MCI. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if early changes in WMI were associated with gait impairment and falls. Methods: Forty-three participants with MCI from the Gait and Brain Study underwent standardized assessment of cognition, gait performance under single and dual-task conditions (walking while talking), and WMI using 3 Tesla diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Macro-structural imaging characteristics (white and grey matter morphology) as well as microstructural WMI parameters were examined for associations with falls and gait performance. Significantly associated WM tracts were then used to test the interplay between WMI and history of falls, after adjusting for other important covariates. Results: Multiple WM tracts (corpus callosum, forceps minor, and the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus) were significantly associated with history of falls and lower dual-task gait performance. A multivariable regression model showed that fall history was associated with the radial diffusivity in the forceps minor, even after adjusting for education, sex, BMI, MMSE scores, comorbidities, gait velocity and WMH volume as covariates. Conclusions: Multiple WM tracts that are known to be involved in executive and visuospatial functions were preferentially affected in MCI individuals with history of falls. Our preliminary findings support the notion that WMI in key brain regions may increase risk of falls in older adults with MCI.
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Citation of this paper:
Jonatan A. Snir, Robert Bartha, Manuel Montero-Odasso, White matter integrity is associated with gait impairment and falls in mild cognitive impairment. Results from the gait and brain study, NeuroImage: Clinical, Volume 24, 2019, 101975, ISSN 2213-1582, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101975.