For the Public
About small vessel disease
Small vessel disease (acronym: SVD), a group of vascular disorders resulting from the pathological impairment of the small blood vessels of the brain, is strongly linked to causing some forms of dementia and stroke. These diseases have a huge social and economic impact. SVD is a global problem, but a treatment is yet to be discovered.
Most SVD cases occur at random, but there are a few that can be passed down through the family and are caused by genetic mutations. For the rest of the cases, the cause is still unknown. In order to develop new treatments for SVD we need to understand the different processes that occur in the brain to cause disease.
We are interested in a feature of the brain called the perivascular space. This is the gap surrounding blood vessels in the brain. Fluid uses this gap like a pipe to transport waste products from the brain. These spaces enlarge in SVD. We are trying to understand what causes them to get bigger, and what happens to the movement of fluid in the brain when this occurs.
We think that the large PVS lead to fluid stagnation in the brain, which may cause problems such as inflammation and reduced oxygen supply. We aim to study patients with SVD and use models of the disease to understand this.