Body mass index, time of day and genetics affect perivascular spaces in the white matter

Giuseppe Barisano, Nasim Sheikh-Bahaei, Meng Law, Arthur W. Toga, Farshid Sepehrband

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The analysis of cerebral perivascular spaces (PVS) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows to explore in vivo their contributions to neurological disorders. To date the normal amount and distribution of PVS in healthy human brains are not known, thus hampering our ability to define with confidence pathogenic alterations. Furthermore, it is unclear which biological factors can influence the presence and size of PVS on MRI. We performed exploratory data analysis of PVS volume and distribution in a large population of healthy individuals (n = 897, age = 28.8 ± 3.7). Here we describe the global and regional amount of PVS in the white matter, which can be used as a reference for clinicians and researchers investigating PVS and may help the interpretation of the structural changes affecting PVS in pathological states. We found a relatively high inter-subject variability in the PVS amount in this population of healthy adults (range: 1.31–14.49 cm3). The PVS volume was higher in older and male individuals. Moreover, we identified body mass index, time of day, and genetics as new elements significantly affecting PVS in vivo under physiological conditions, offering a valuable foundation to future studies aimed at understanding the physiology of perivascular flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1563-1578
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • body mass index
  • genetics
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • Perivascular spaces
  • time of day

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