To evaluate the association between coronary artery calcium (CAC) and cortical thickness in a large sample of cognitively normal individuals, with special emphasis in determining if the association thickness has regional brain specificity and if it is mediated by white matter hyperintensities (WMH). A total of 512 participants were included in this study. CAC scores were assessed by multi-detector computed tomography. Cortical thickness was measured using a surface-based method. Linear mixed models were used to assess the association between CAC scores and cortical thickness. In fully adjusted models, increased CAC scores were associated with cortical thinning across several brain regions, which generally overlapped with the distribution of default mode network. The association between CAC scores and cortical thickness was significantly stronger in participants with moderate or severe WMH compared to those with none or mild WMH, even though CAC scores were not associated with WMH. In cognitively normal adults, CAC was associated with cortical thinning in areas related to cognitive function. This association was evident after adjusting for multiple coronary artery disease risk factors and for WMH, suggesting that CAC may be more closely related to Alzheimer's Disease-type disease rather than to cerebral small vessel disease.
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