Background and Objectives

Individual brain MRI markers only show at best a modest association with long-term occurrence of dementia. Therefore, it is challenging to accurately identify individuals at increased risk for dementia. We aimed to identify different brain MRI phenotypes by hierarchical clustering analysis based on combined neurovascular and neurodegenerative brain MRI markers and to determine the long-term dementia risk within the brain MRI phenotype subgroups.


Hierarchical clustering analysis based on 32 combined neurovascular and neurodegenerative brain MRI markers in community-dwelling individuals of the Age-Gene/Environment Susceptibility Reykjavik Study was applied to identify brain MRI phenotypes. A Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to determine the long-term risk for dementia per subgroup.


We included 3,056 participants and identified 15 subgroups with distinct brain MRI phenotypes. The phenotypes ranged from limited burden, mostly irregular white matter hyperintensity (WMH) shape and cerebral atrophy, mostly irregularly WMHs and microbleeds, mostly cortical infarcts and atrophy, mostly irregularly shaped WMH and cerebral atrophy to multiburden subgroups. Each subgroup showed different long-term risks for dementia (min–max range hazard ratios [HRs] 1.01–6.18; mean time to follow-up 9.9 ± 2.6 years); especially the brain MRI phenotype with mainly WMHs and atrophy showed a large increased risk (HR 6.18, 95% CI 3.37–11.32).


Distinct brain MRI phenotypes can be identified in community-dwelling older adults. Our results indicate that distinct brain MRI phenotypes are related to varying long-term risks of developing dementia. Brain MRI phenotypes may in the future assist in an improved understanding of the structural correlates of dementia predisposition.

Overview publication

TitleIdentification of Distinct Brain MRI Phenotypes and Their Association With Long-Term Dementia Risk in Community-Dwelling Older Adults
DateApril 9th, 2024
Issue nameNeurology
Issue numberv102.7
AuthorsKeller JA, Sigurdsson S, Schmitz Abecassis B, Kant IM, Van Buchem MA, Launer LJ, van Osch MJ, Gudnason V & de Bresser J
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