Multiparametric graph theoretical analysis reveals altered structural and functional network topology in Alzheimer's disease

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Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD), an irreversible neurodegenerative disease, is the most common type of dementia in elderly people. This present study incorporated multiple structural and functional connectivity metrics into a graph theoretical analysis framework and investigated alterations in brain network topology in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD. By using this multiparametric analysis, we expected different connectivity metrics may reflect additional or complementary information regarding the topological changes in brain networks in MCI or AD. In our study, a total of 73 subjects participated in this study and underwent the magnetic resonance imaging scans. For the structural network, we compared commonly used connectivity metrics, including fractional anisotropy and normalized streamline count, with multiple diffusivity-based metrics. We compared Pearson correlation and covariance by investigating their sensitivities to functional network topology. Significant disruption of structural network topology in MCI and AD was found predominantly in regions within the limbic system, prefrontal and occipital regions, in addition to widespread alterations of local efficiency. At a global scale, our results showed that the disruption of the structural network was consistent across different edge definitions and global network metrics from the MCI to AD stages. Significant changes in connectivity and tract-specific diffusivity were also found in several limbic connections. Our findings suggest that tract-specific metrics (e.g., fractional anisotropy and diffusivity) provide more sensitive and interpretable measurements than does metrics based on streamline count. Besides, the use of inversed radial diffusivity provided additional information for understanding alterations in network topology caused by AD progression and its possible origins. Use of this proposed multiparametric network analysis framework may facilitate early MCI diagnosis and AD prevention.

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Lin, S. Y., Lin, C. P., Hsieh, T. J., Lin, C. F., Chen, S. H., Chao, Y. P., … Kuo, L. W. (2019). Multiparametric graph theoretical analysis reveals altered structural and functional network topology in Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroImage: Clinical, 22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101680

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