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Selective vulnerability of hippocampal sub-regions in patients with subcortical vascular mild cognitive impairment.

Early diagnosis of subcortical vascular mild cognitive impairment (svMCI) is clinically essential because it is the most reversible subtype of all cognitive impairments. Since structural alterations of hippocampal sub-regions have been well studied in neurodegenerative diseases with pathophysiological cognitive impairments, we were eager to determine whether there is a selective vulnerability of hippocampal sub-fields in patients with svMCI. Our study included 34 svMCI patients and 34 normal controls (NCs), with analysis of T1 images and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scores. Gray matter volume (GMV) of hippocampal sub-regions was quantified and compared between the groups, adjusting for age, sex, and education. Additionally, we explored correlations between altered GMV in hippocampal sub-fields and MoCA scores in svMCI patients. Patients with svMCI exhibited selectively reduced GMV in several left hippocampal sub-regions, such as the hippocampal tail, hippocampal fissure, CA1 head, ML-HP head, CA4 head, and CA3 head, as well as decreased GMV in the right hippocampal tail. Specifically, GMV in the left CA3 head was inversely correlated with MoCA scores in svMCI patients. Our findings indicate that the atrophy pattern of patients with svMCI was predominantly located in the left hippocampal sub-regions. The left CA3 might be a crucial area underlying the distinct pathophysiological mechanisms of cognitive impairments with subcortical vascular origins.

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