Does Tetralogy of Fallot affect brain aging? A proof-of-concept study

Marina Codari, Giacomo Davide Edoardo Papini, Luca Melazzini, Francesca Romana Pluchinotta, Francesco Secchi, Mario Carminati, Alessandro Frigiola, Massimo Chessa, Francesco Sardanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


© 2018 Codari et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The impact of congenital heart disease on brain aging has not been extensively investigated. We evaluated cerebral microbleeds and white matter hyperintensities on brain magnetic resonance imaging in adult patients with tetralogy of Fallot (ToF). Ten ToF patients (6 women, 4 men; aged 21–58 years; New York Heart Association [NYHA] class 1–2) were prospectively enrolled and underwent a T1-weighted, a T2-weighted dark fluid, and a T2*-weighted scans. Ten age- and sex-matched controls were prospectively recruited and subjected to the same acquisition protocol. Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) were manually counted while white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) were segmented using ITK-Snap. Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Spearman correlation, and Bland-Altman statistics were used. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) age was 45.0 (30.5–49.5) years in ToF patients and 46.0 (30.5–49.8) years in controls. The median (IQR) of the number of CMBs was 6.0 (4.0–7.8) in ToF patients and 0 (0.0–0.0) in controls (p = 0.002). The WMHs burden was 2,506 (1,557–2,900) mm3 for ToF patients and 2,212 (1,860–2,586) mm3 for controls (p = 0.160). Moreover, a positive significant correlation was found between the WMHs burden and the NYHA class (ρ = 0.80, p = 0.005). Inter-operator concordance rate for the presence/ absence of CMBs was 90%; the reproducibility for the WMHs burden was 77%. In conclusion, we found more cerebral microbleeds and a higher WMHs burden in adult ToF patients than in controls. This preliminary comparison supports the hypothesis of an early brain aging in ToF patients. Larger studies are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018


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