Selective changes of resting-state networks in individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease.
ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that prominently affects cerebral connectivity. Assessing the functional connectivity at rest, recent functional MRI (fMRI) studies reported on the existence of resting-state networks (RSNs). RSNs are characterized by spatially coherent, spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygen level-dependent signal and are made up of regional patterns commonly involved in functions such as sensory, attention, or default mode processing. In AD, the default mode network (DMN) is affected by reduced functional connectivity and atrophy. In this work, we analyzed functional and structural MRI data from healthy elderly (n = 16) and patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) (n = 24), a syndrome of high risk for developing AD. Two questions were addressed: (i) Are any RSNs altered in aMCI? (ii) Do changes in functional connectivity relate to possible structural changes? Independent component analysis of resting-state fMRI data identified eight spatially consistent RSNs. Only selected areas of the DMN and the executive attention network demonstrated reduced network-related activity in the patient group. Voxel-based morphometry revealed atrophy in both medial temporal lobes (MTL) of the patients. The functional connectivity between both hippocampi in the MTLs and the posterior cingulate of the DMN was present in healthy controls but absent in patients. We conclude that in individuals at risk for AD, a specific subset of RSNs is altered, likely representing effects of ongoing early neurodegeneration. We interpret our finding as a proof of principle, demonstrating that functional brain disorders can be characterized by functional-disconnectivity profiles of RSNs.
Project description:Altered functional characteristics have been reported in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD); nonetheless, comprehensive analyses of the resting-state networks (RSNs) are rare. This study combined multiple imaging modalities to investigate the functional and structural changes within each RSN and between RSNs in aMCI/AD patients. Eight RSNs were identified from functional MRI data from 35 AD, 18 aMCI and 21 normal control subjects using independent component analysis. We compared functional connectivity (FC) within each RSN and found decreased FC in the several cognitive-related RSNs in AD, including the bilateral precuneus of the precuneus network, the posterior cingulate cortex and left precuneus of the posterior default mode network (DMN), and the left superior parietal lobule of the left frontoparietal network (LFP). We further compared the grey matter volumes and amplitudes of low-frequency fluctuations of these regions and found decreases in these measures in AD. Importantly, we found decreased inter-network connectivity between the visual network and the LFP and between the anterior and posterior DMNs in AD. All indices in aMCI patients were numerically between those of controls and AD patients. These results suggest that the brain networks supporting complex cognitive processes are specifically and progressively impaired over the course of AD, and the FC impairments are present not only within networks but also between networks.
Project description:Patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) show functional and structural connectivity alterations in the default mode network (DMN) while cerebrovascular disease (CeVD) shows functional and structural connectivity changes in the executive control network (ECN). Such disruptions are associated with memory and executive function impairment, respectively. Concurrent AD and CeVD pathology is associated with a higher rate of cognitive decline and differential neurodegenerative patterns. Together, such findings are likely reflective of different underlying pathology in AD with and without CeVD. However, few studies have examined the effect of CeVD on network functional connectivity (task-free functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) and structural connectivity (diffusion MRI) of the DMN and ECN in aMCI and AD using a hypothesis-driven multiple seed-based approach.We examined functional and structural connectivity network changes in 39 aMCI, 50 aMCI+CeVD, 47 AD, 47 AD+CeVD, and 65 healthy controls (HCs) and their associations with cognitive impairment in the executive/attention and memory domains.We demonstrate divergent DMN and ECN functional connectivity changes in CeVD and non-CeVD subjects. Compared with controls, intra-DMN hippocampal functional connectivity reductions were observed in both AD and AD+CeVD, while intra-DMN parietal and medial prefrontal-parietal functional connectivity was higher in AD+CeVD and aMCI+CeVD, but lower in AD. Intra-ECN frontal functional connectivity increases and fronto-parietal functional connectivity decreases occurred in CeVD but not non-CeVD subjects. Such functional connectivity alterations were related with cognitive impairment in a dissociative manner: intra-DMN functional connectivity changes were associated with worse cognition primarily in non-CeVD groups, while intra-ECN functional connectivity changes were associated with worse cognition primarily in CeVD groups. Additionally, CeVD and non-CeVD groups showed overlapping and distinct alterations in inter-network DMN-ECN functional connectivity depending on disease severity. In contrast to functional connectivity, CeVD groups had greater network structural connectivity damage compared with non-CeVD groups in both aMCI and AD patients. Network structural connectivity damage was associated with worse cognition.We demonstrate differential functional and structural network changes between aMCI and AD patients with and without CeVD through diverging and deleterious network-based degeneration underlying domain-specific cognitive impairment.
Project description:Instead of assuming a constant relationship between brain abnormalities and memory impairment, we aimed to examine the stage-dependent contributions of multimodal brain structural and functional deterioration to memory impairment in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) continuum. We assessed grey matter volume, white matter (WM) microstructural measures (free-water (FW) and FW-corrected fractional anisotropy), and functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) in 54 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 46 AD. We employed a novel sparse varying coefficient model to investigate how the associations between abnormal brain measures and memory impairment varied throughout disease continuum. We found lower functional connectivity in the DMN was related to worse memory across AD continuum. Higher widespread white matter FW and lower fractional anisotropy in the fornix showed a stronger association with memory impairment in the early aMCI stage; such WM-memory associations then decreased with increased dementia severity. Notably, the effect of the DMN atrophy occurred in early aMCI stage, while the effect of the medial temporal atrophy occurred in the AD stage. Our study provided evidence to support the hypothetical progression models underlying memory dysfunction in AD cascade and underscored the importance of FW increases and DMN degeneration in early stage of memory deficit.
Project description:From molecular mechanisms to global brain networks, atypical fluctuations are the hallmark of neurodegeneration. Yet, traditional fMRI research on resting-state networks (RSNs) has favored static and average connectivity methods, which by overlooking the fluctuation dynamics triggered by neurodegeneration, have yielded inconsistent results. The present multicenter study introduces a data-driven machine learning pipeline based on dynamic connectivity fluctuation analysis (DCFA) on RS-fMRI data from 300 participants belonging to three groups: behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) patients, Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients, and healthy controls. We considered non-linear oscillatory patterns across combined and individual resting-state networks (RSNs), namely: the salience network (SN), mostly affected in bvFTD; the default mode network (DMN), mostly affected in AD; the executive network (EN), partially compromised in both conditions; the motor network (MN); and the visual network (VN). These RSNs were entered as features for dementia classification using a recent robust machine learning approach (a Bayesian hyperparameter tuned Gradient Boosting Machines (GBM) algorithm), across four independent datasets with different MR scanners and recording parameters. The machine learning classification accuracy analysis revealed a systematic and unique tailored architecture of RSN disruption. The classification accuracy ranking showed that the most affected networks for bvFTD were the SN + EN network pair (mean accuracy = 86.43%, AUC = 0.91, sensitivity = 86.45%, specificity = 87.54%); for AD, the DMN + EN network pair (mean accuracy = 86.63%, AUC = 0.89, sensitivity = 88.37%, specificity = 84.62%); and for the bvFTD vs. AD classification, the DMN + SN network pair (mean accuracy = 82.67%, AUC = 0.86, sensitivity = 81.27%, specificity = 83.01%). Moreover, the DFCA classification systematically outperformed canonical connectivity approaches (including both static and linear dynamic connectivity). Our findings suggest that non-linear dynamical fluctuations surpass two traditional seed-based functional connectivity approaches and provide a pathophysiological characterization of global brain networks in neurodegenerative conditions (AD and bvFTD) across multicenter data.
Project description:Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is characterized by cognitive functional decline, especially in memory. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used in neuroimaging studies that explore alterations between patients and normal individuals to elucidate the pathological mechanisms of different diseases. The current study was performed to investigate alterations in the functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) in aMCI patients compared to healthy elderly controls, as well as further define the association between neurological alterations and memory function.Twenty-five aMCI patients and 25 healthy individuals were recruited and underwent both fMRI and neuropsychological examinations. fMRI data was analyzed by independent component analysis.Compared to healthy individuals, aMCI patients exhibited a significant increase in functional connectivity between the DMN and right-middle and right-superior frontal gyri, left-middle occipital gyrus, and left-middle temporal gyrus, but reduced functional connectivity between the DMN and left-middle and left-inferior frontal gyri and left insula. These alterations were found to be associated with reduced memory function.aMCI patients exhibited abnormal functional connectivity between the DMN and certain brain regions which is associated with changes in memory function associated with aMCI.
Project description:In resting state fMRI (rs-fMRI), only functional connectivity (FC) reductions in the default mode network (DMN) are normally reported as a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this investigation we have developed a comprehensive strategy to characterize the FC changes occurring in multiple networks and applied it in a pilot study of subjects with AD and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), compared to healthy controls (HC). Resting state networks (RSNs) were studied in 14 AD (70 ± 6 years), 12 MCI (74 ± 6 years), and 16 HC (69 ± 5 years). RSN alterations were present in almost all the 15 recognized RSNs; overall, 474 voxels presented a reduced FC in MCI and 1244 in AD while 1627 voxels showed an increased FC in MCI and 1711 in AD. The RSNs were then ranked according to the magnitude and extension of FC changes (gFC), putting in evidence 6 RSNs with prominent changes: DMN, frontal cortical network (FCN), lateral visual network (LVN), basal ganglia network (BGN), cerebellar network (CBLN), and the anterior insula network (AIN). Nodes, or hubs, showing alterations common to more than one RSN were mostly localized within the prefrontal cortex and the mesial-temporal cortex. The cerebellum showed a unique behavior where voxels of decreased gFC were only found in AD while a significant gFC increase was only found in MCI. The gFC alterations showed strong correlations (p < 0.001) with psychological scores, in particular Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and attention/memory tasks. In conclusion, this analysis revealed that the DMN was affected by remarkable FC increases, that FC alterations extended over several RSNs, that derangement of functional relationships between multiple areas occurred already in the early stages of dementia. These results warrant future work to verify whether these represent compensatory mechanisms that exploit a pre-existing neural reserve through plasticity, which evolve in a state of lack of connectivity between different networks with the worsening of the pathology.
Project description:An anticorrelated relationship in the spontaneous fluctuations between the default mode network (DMN) and dorsal attention network (DAN) is a robust feature of intrinsic brain organization in healthy individuals. Prior studies have reported a decreased anticorrelation between the DMN and the DAN in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, it is unclear how this anticorrelation changes as MCI progresses to AD. We hypothesized that dysfunctional connectivity between the DMN and DAN may reflect the gradual decline from MCI to AD. To test this hypothesis, we investigated alterations in functional connectivity between the DMN and DAN in subtypes of amnestic MCI (aMCI) by comparing with the same functional pattern in healthy elderly individuals and patients with AD. We retrospectively collected brain imaging and neuropsychological data from 20 AD participants, 22 participants with multiple-domain aMCI (aMCI-m), 29 participants with single-domain aMCI (aMCI-s) and 23 sex-matched normal controls in this study. Resting-state functional connectivity analysis revealed that aMCI-s and aMCI-m groups demonstrated different magnitudes of increased anticorrelation between the DMN and DAN relative to the AD group. Furthermore, in aMCI-s, aMCI-m and AD participants, hypoconnectivity was found in specific regions within the DMN, including the precuneus and angular gyrus, and hyperconnectivity was found in areas outside the typical DMN networks, including the middle occipital gyrus, lingual gyrus and visual cortex, which indicated disease-related adaptations of brain networks. Our findings suggest that DMN-DAN anticorrelation may shed light on the understanding of the adaptations in brain function during the progression from MCI to AD and may serve as a potential biomarker to detect AD in the preclinical stage.
Project description:Background: The early progression continuum of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been considered to advance through subjective cognitive decline (SCD), non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment (naMCI), and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Altered functional connectivity (FC) in the default mode network (DMN) is regarded as a hallmark of AD. Furthermore, the DMN can be divided into two subnetworks, the anterior and posterior subnetworks. However, little is known about distinct disruptive patterns in the subsystems of the DMN across the preclinical AD spectrum. This study investigated the connectivity patterns of anterior DMN (aDMN) and posterior DMN (pDMN) across the preclinical AD spectrum. Methods: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) was used to investigate the FC in the DMN subnetworks in 20 healthy controls (HC), eight SCD, 11 naMCI, and 28 aMCI patients. Moreover, a correlation analysis was used to examine associations between the altered connectivity of the DMN subnetworks and the neurocognitive performance. Results: Compared to the HC, SCD patients showed increased FC in the bilateral superior frontal gyrus (SFG), naMCI patients showed increased FC in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL), and aMCI patients showed increased FC in the bilateral IPL in the aDMN; while SCD patients showed decreased FC in the precuneus, naMCI patients showed increased FC in the left middle temporal gyrus (MTG), and aMCI patients also showed increased FC in the right middle frontal gyrus (MFG) in the pDMN. Notably, the FC between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the left MFG and the IPL in the aDMN was associated with episodic memory in the SCD and aMCI groups. Interestingly, the FC between the posterior cingulated cortex (PCC) and several regions in the pDMN was associated with other cognitive functions in the SCD and naMCI groups. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the three preclinical stages of AD exhibit distinct FC alternations in the DMN subnetworks. Furthermore, the patient group data showed that the altered FC involves cognitive function. These findings can provide novel insights for tailored clinical intervention across the preclinical AD spectrum.
Project description:Most default mode network (DMN) studies in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are based on the comparison of only two groups, namely patients and controls. Information derived from comparing three groups, normal, aMCI and AD, simultaneously may lead us to better understand the progression of dementia. The purpose of this study was to evaluate functional connectivity of DMN in the continuum from normal through aMCI to AD. Differences in functional connectivity were compared between the three groups using independent component analysis. The relationship between functional connectivity and disease progression was investigated using multiple regression analysis with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. The results revealed differences throughout the left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), left middle temporal gyrus (MTG), right middle frontal gyrus (MFG) and bilateral parahippocampal gyrus (PHG). Both patients with aMCI and those with AD showed decreased connectivity in the left PCC and left PHG compared with healthy subjects. Furthermore, patients with AD also showed decreased connectivity in the left MTG and right PHG. Increased functional connectivity was observed in the right MFG of patients with AD compared with other groups. MMSE scores exhibited significant positive and negative correlations with functional connectivity in PCC, MTG and MFG regions. Taken together, increased functional connectivity in the MFG for AD patients might compensate for the loss of function in the PCC and MTG via compensatory mechanisms in corticocortical connections.
Project description:The salience network (SN) serves to identify salient stimuli and to switch between the central executive network (CEN) and the default-mode network (DMN), both of which are impaired in Alzheimer's disease (AD)/amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). We hypothesized that both the structural and functional organization of the SN and functional interactions between the SN and CEN/DMN are altered in normal aging and in AD/aMCI. Gray matter volume (GMV) and resting-state functional connectivity (FC) were analyzed from healthy younger (HYC) to older controls (HOC) and from HOC to aMCI and AD patients. All the SN components showed significant differences in the GMV, intranetwork FC, and internetwork FC between the HYC and HOC. Most of the SN components showed differences in the GMV between the HOC and AD and between the aMCI and AD. Compared with the HOC, AD patients exhibited significant differences in intra- and internetwork FCs of the SN, whereas aMCI patients demonstrated differences in internetwork FC of the SN. Most of the GMVs and internetwork FCs of the SN and part of the intranetwork FC of the SN were correlated with cognitive differences in older subjects. Our findings suggested that structural and functional impairments of the SN may occur as early as in normal aging and that functional disconnection between the SN and CEN/ DMN may also be associated with both normal aging and disease progression.