Effects of candesartan on cerebral microvascular function in mild cognitive impairment: Results of two clinical trials

Brandon Henley, Maureen Okafor, Ambar Kulshreshtha, Antoine Trammell, Ihab Hajjar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cerebral microvascular dysfunction is commonly seen in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) to CO2 reflects cerebral microvascular health and may be modulated by the renin–angiotensin system (RAS). This study aimed to investigate the effects of RAS modulation on CVR in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to underlying vascular or AD etiologies. Methods: This study presents findings of candesartan’s effects on the secondary outcomes of two double-blind randomized clinical trials of 12-month therapy of candesartan versus lisinopril in VCI (CALIBREX (Candesartan vs Lisinopril Effects on the Brain and Endothelial Function in Executive MCI)) and candesartan versus placebo in prodromal AD (Candesartan’s Effects on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Biomarkers (CEDAR)). Primary outcome results of these trials have been reported in previous publications. Participants underwent identical brain blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD)-CVR in response to a 2-min CO2 challenge at baseline and 12 months. Regions of interest and voxel-wise CVR maps were derived from BOLD signal changes during CO2 challenge. CVR effects were compared between candesartan and lisinopril (CALIBREX) and candesartan and placebo (CEDAR) using mixed-model repeated measures. Results: Data from 102 participants in the CALIBREX study (mean age = 65 years, 45% female, 63% African American) and 59 in the CEDAR study (mean age = 67 years, 32% female, 20% African American) were analyzed. Candesartan was associated with improved whole brain CVR compared to placebo in the CEDAR study (adjusted within-group mean difference for candesartan = 0.27 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.006, 0.53) vs placebo = −0.17 (95% CI = 0.42, 0.08), p-value = 0.018), and compared to lisinopril in the CALIBREX study (adjusted within-group mean difference for candesartan = 0.28 (95% CI = 0.10, 0.46) vs lisinopril = −0.08 (95% CI = −0.31, 0.14), p-value = 0.012), independent of blood pressure. In an exploratory meta-analysis of the two trials, improved CVR in the hippocampus was linked to improved attention and working memory (p = 0.044) and a trend for improved executive function (p = 0.087) with candesartan therapy. Conclusion: This study suggests that candesartan is associated with improved microvascular function in MCI, and these findings are independent of its blood pressure effect in these VCI and prodromal AD populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Candesartan
  • cerebrovascular reactivity
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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