Altered thalamic functional connectivity in multiple sclerosis

Yaou Liu, Peipeng Liang, Yunyun Duan, Jing Huang, Zhuoqiong Ren, Xiuqin Jia, Huiqing Dong, Jing Ye, Fu Dong Shi, Helmut Butzkueven, Kuncheng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To compare thalamic functional connectivity (FC) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy controls (HC), and correlate these connectivity measures with other MRI and clinical variables. Methods: We employed resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) to examine changes in thalamic connectivity by comparing thirty-five patients with MS and 35 age- and sex-matched HC. Thalamic FC was investigated by correlating low frequency fMRI signal fluctuations in thalamic voxels with voxels in all other brain regions. Additionally thalamic volume fraction (TF), T2 lesion volume (T2LV), EDSS and disease duration were recorded and correlated with the FC changes. Results: MS patients were found to have a significantly lower TF than HC in bilateral thalami. Compared to HC, the MS group showed significantly decreased FC between thalamus and several brain regions including right middle frontal and parahippocampal gyri, and the left inferior parietal lobule. Increased intra- and inter-thalamic FC was observed in the MS group compared to HC. These FC alterations were not correlated with T2LV, thalamic volume or lesions. In the MS group, however, there was a negative correlation between disease duration and inter-thalamic connectivity (r = -0.59, p < 0.001). Conclusion: We demonstrated decreased FC between thalamus and several cortical regions, while increased intra- and inter-thalamic connectivity in MS patients. These complex functional changes reflect impairments and/or adaptations that are independent of T2LV, thalamic volume or presence of thalamic lesions. The negative correlation between disease duration and inter-thalamic connectivity could indicate an adaptive role of thalamus that is gradually lost with increasing disease duration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-708
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Volume84
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain plasticity
  • Functional connectivity
  • Functional impairment
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Resting-state functional mri
  • Thalamus

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