, Volume 120, Issue 7, pp 1083-1092
Date: 30 Nov 2012

Slow gait in MCI is associated with ventricular enlargement: results from the Gait and Brain Study

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Slow gait is ubiquitous among older adults and predicts cognitive decline and progression to dementia. Age-related structural brain changes could be responsible for abnormal gait. The purpose of this study was to determine whether brain lateral ventricle volume, a measure of brain atrophy, was associated with gait velocity among older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), while considering the effects of age and brain vascular burden. Twenty community-dwellers with MCI, free of hydrocephalus, aged 76 years (69/80) [median (25th/75th percentile)] (35 % female) from the ‘Gait and Brain Study’ were included in this analysis. Quantitative gait performance was measured while steady-state walking at self-selected pace with a 6-m electronic portable walkway (GAITRite). Brain ventricle volume was quantified using semi-automated software from three-dimensional T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Age, white matter hyperintensity burden and Mini-Mental State Examination score were used as potential confounders. Median gait velocity was 118.7 cm/s (104.4/131.3). Median brain ventricle volume was 39.9 mL (30.0/46.6) with the left ventricle being slightly larger than the right (P = 0.052). Brain ventricle volume was inversely associated with gait velocity (adjusted β = −0.63, P = 0.046). Volume of both the ventricular main bodies and the temporal horns correlated inversely with gait velocity (respectively, P = 0.009, P = 0.008). Left ventricle volume correlated with decreased gait velocity (P = 0.002) while right ventricle did not (P = 0.068). Slower gait velocity was associated with larger brain ventricle volume in our sample of people with MCI independent of age, cerebrovascular burden and cognitive worsening. This result may help elucidate the trajectories of cognitive and gait declines in people with MCI.

On behalf of the WALK Team (Working group Angers-London for Knowledge).