Arteriolar Tortuosity of the White Matter in Aging and Hypertension. A Microradiographic Study

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Previous studies have shown tortuous arteries and arterioles in the brains of older people, but the effects of age and other factors have not been studied. To examine the effects of hypertension, age, race and sex on white matter (WM) arteriolar tortuosity (AT), we performed high-resolution microradiography and morphometry of human brains taken at autopsy from 44 subjects of various ages (range 30-96 years; 31 hypertensives/13 normotensives). About 70% of tortuosities in the WM were found at the gray-white interfaces of the insular region and adjacent subcortical-WM of the inferior frontal and superior temporal gyri. Six morphologic types of tortuous profiles were identified. The number of tortuous profiles increased with age, but not significantly. Hypertension, sex and race had no effect on tortuosity. Our findings also suggest that 1) WM AT is found mostly at the interfaces between gray matter and WM and, therefore, 2) the physical properties of the WM somehow predispose to the development of AT; 3) AT is not associated with tortuosity in the veins; and 4) the location of complex arteriolar coils supports a recent claim that they can be mistaken for the Charcot-Bouchard microaneurysms if injection of contrast media and low-magnification radiography of the brain slices are employed for that purpose.

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