Stroke and dementia are common and debilitating health issues worldwide. Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) underlies a large proportion of these cases. However, the cause of SVD is unknown.
Research into the causes and pathophysiological mechanisms of SVD is hampered by the fact that small vessels themselves are difficult to visualise in people. The wide range of clinical presentations makes diagnosis difficult and a common underlying mechanism hard to pinpoint.
However, some alterations in the brain have been identified using brain scanning techniques and may contribute to the disease.
We are interested in a feature of the brain called the perivascular space, which are fluid-filled compartments surrounding blood vessels in the brain. These spaces enlarge in SVD. We are trying to understand what causes this, what happens to the movement of fluid in the brain when this occurs, and what the downstream effects of this are.