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Immunology - Neurological Disorders - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging


Altered Topological Organization of White Matter Structural Networks in Patients with Neuromyelitis Optica
Published: Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Author: Yaou Liu et al.

by Yaou Liu, Yunyun Duan, Yong He, Jun Wang, Mingrui Xia, Chunshui Yu, Huiqing Dong, Jing Ye, Helmut Butzkueven, Kuncheng Li, Ni Shu

Objective

To investigate the topological alterations of the whole-brain white-matter (WM) structural networks in patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

Methods

The present study involved 26 NMO patients and 26 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. WM structural connectivity in each participant was imaged with diffusion-weighted MRI and represented in terms of a connectivity matrix using deterministic tractography method. Graph theory-based analyses were then performed for the characterization of brain network properties. A multiple linear regression analysis was performed on each network metric between the NMO and control groups.

Results

The NMO patients exhibited abnormal small-world network properties, as indicated by increased normalized characteristic path length, increased normalized clustering and increased small-worldness. Furthermore, largely similar hub distributions of the WM structural networks were observed between NMO patients and healthy controls. However, regional efficiency in several brain areas of NMO patients was significantly reduced, which were mainly distributed in the default-mode, sensorimotor and visual systems. Furthermore, we have observed increased regional efficiency in a few brain regions such as the orbital parts of the superior and middle frontal and fusiform gyri.

Conclusion

Although the NMO patients in this study had no discernible white matter T2 lesions in the brain, we hypothesize that the disrupted topological organization of WM networks provides additional evidence for subtle, widespread cerebral WM pathology in NMO.

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