Purpose: To evaluate the relationship between vertebral marrow blood perfusion and common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in aging adults. Materials and Methods: An age- and sex-matched case control study was conducted. Subjects were contacted and enrolled voluntarily according to a database containing 2258 cases that received carotid ultrasonography examination at our hospital in the previous two years. Forty-three pairs of subjects (56 male. 30 female; aged 44-85 years, average 63 years) underwent dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) study of the lumbar spine. The average peak enhancement percentage of the second to fourth lumbar vertebrae was used to represent the vertebral marrow perfusion status for each subject. The common carotid IMT, presence of plaque, peak enhancement percentage, body mass index (BMI). systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerol levels were acquired for statistical analysis. Results: The average peak enhancement percentage was significantly lower in thickened IMT group compared to the normal IMT group (73 ± 23 vs. 90 ± 27, P = 0.0023). The carotid IMT inversely correlated with vertebral peak enhancement percentage (r = -0.33, P = 0.0018). The vertebral peak enhancement percentage was significantly lower in subjects with presence of any carotid plaque (P = 0.032). Common carotid IMT was the only significant variable that was negatively associated with vertebral marrow perfusion after adjusting for the effect of sex, age, blood pressure, BMI, total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerol level in linear regression model (P = 0.008). Conclusion: Our data demonstrate the negative association between vertebral marrow blood perfusion and common carotid IMT. These results suggest that common carotid IMT may provide the information of tissue perfusion status of the vertebral bone marrow.
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