Standing middle cerebral artery velocity predicts cognitive function and gait speed in older adults with cognitive impairment, and is impacted by sex differences


Upright posture challenges the cerebrovascular system, leading to changes in middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv) dynamics which are less evident at supine rest. Chronic alterations in MCAv have been linked to hypoperfusion states and the effect that this may have on cognition remains unclear. This study aimed to determine if MCAv and oscillatory metrics of MCAv (ex. pulsatility index, PI) during upright posture are i) associated with cognitive function and gait speed (GS) to a greater extent than during supine rest, and ii) are different between sexes. Beat-by-beat MCAv (transcranial Doppler ultrasound) and mean arterial pressure (MAP, plethysmography) were averaged for 30-seconds during supine-rest through a transition to standing for 53 participants (73±6yrs, 17 females). While controlling for age, multiple linear regressions predicting MoCA scores and GS from age, supine MCAv metrics, and standing MCAv metrics, were completed. Simple linear regressions predicting Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score and GS from MCAv metrics were performed separately for females and males. Significance was set to ptextless0.05. Lower standing diastolic MCAv was a significant (p = 0.017) predictor of lower MoCA scores in participants with mild cognitive impairment, and this relationship only remained significant for males. Lower standing PI was associated with slower GS (p = 0.027, r=-0.306) in both sexes. Our results indicate a relationship between blunted MCAv and altered oscillatory flow profiles during standing, with lower MoCA scores and GS. These relationships were not observed in the supine position, indicating a unique relationship between standing measures of MCAv with cognitive and physical functions.

Cerebral Circulation - Cognition and Behavior