We tested the hypothesis that decreased glomerular filtration rate and albuminuria have different roles in brain structure alterations. We enrolled 1,215 cognitively normal individuals, all of whom underwent high-resolution T1-weighted volumetric magnetic resonance imaging scans. The cerebral small vessel disease burdens were assessed with white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, and microbleeds. Subjects were considered to have an abnormally elevated urine albumin creatinine ratio if the value was ≥17 mg/g for men and ≥25 mg/g for women. Albuminuria, but not estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), was associated with increased WMH burdens (p = 0.002). The data was analyzed after adjusting for age, sex, education, history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, ischemic heart disease, stroke, total cholesterol level, body mass index, status of smoking and alcohol drinking, and intracranial volume. Albuminuria was also associated with cortical thinning, predominantly in the frontal and occipital regions (both p < 0.01) in multiple linear regression analysis. However, eGFR was not associated with cortical thickness. Furthermore, path analysis for cortical thickness showed that albuminuria was associated with frontal thinning partially mediated by WMH burdens. The assessment of albuminuria is needed to improve our ability to identify individuals with high risk for cognitive impairments, and further institute appropriate preventive measures.
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