Journal of Neurology

, Volume 260, Issue 3, pp 884–890 | Cite as

White matter hyperintensity volume and impaired mobility among older adults

  • Joshua Z. Willey
  • Nikolaos Scarmeas
  • Frank A. Provenzano
  • José A. Luchsinger
  • Richard Mayeux
  • Adam M. BrickmanEmail author
Original Communication


Gait speed is associated with multiple adverse outcomes of aging. White matter hyperintensities (WMH) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been associated with gait speed, though few studies have examined changes in gait speed over time in population-based studies comprising participants from diverse cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between a decline in gait speed and total and regional WMH volumes in a community-based study of aging. Participants (n = 701) underwent gait-speed measurement via a 4-m walk test at the time of initial enrollment and MRI at a second time interval (mean 4.7 [SD = 0.5] years apart). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between large WMH volume and regional WMH volume with gait speed <0.5 m/s (abnormal speed), and a transition to abnormal gait speed. Analyses were adjusted for demographic and clinical factors. Large WMH volume was associated with abnormal gait speed and a transition to abnormal gait speed between the two visits, but not after adjustment for modifiable vascular disease risk factors. Increased frontal lobe WMH volume was associated with abnormal gait speed and transition to abnormal gait speed, but not in adjusted models. WMH are associated with slowing of gait over time. Prevention of WMH presents a potential strategy for the prevention of gait speed decline.


Gait speed White matter hyperintensities Aging 



This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health [AG037212, AG007232, AG029949, and AG034189]. JZW was funded by K23 NS 073104. The NIH played no role in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data, or writing of the study.

Conflicts of interest


Ethical standard

All human studies must state that they have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

Supplementary material

415_2012_6731_MOESM1_ESM.doc (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Z. Willey
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Scarmeas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Frank A. Provenzano
    • 2
  • José A. Luchsinger
    • 4
    • 5
  • Richard Mayeux
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  • Adam M. Brickman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, PS Box 16, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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