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Immunology - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Rheumatology

White Matter Correlates of Neuropsychological Dysfunction in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012
Author: Rex E. Jung et al.

by Rex E. Jung, Robert S. Chavez, Ranee A. Flores, Clifford Qualls, Wilmer L. Sibbitt, Carlos A. Roldan

Patients diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus have similar levels of neuropsychological dysfunction (i.e., 20–50%) as those with Neuropsychiatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (NPSLE). We hypothesized a gradient between cognition and white matter integrity, such that strongest brain-behavior relationships would emerge in NPSLE, intermediate in non-NPSLE, and minimal in controls. We studied thirty-one patients (16 non-NPSLE; 15 NPSLE), ranging in age from 18 to 59 years old (100% female), and eighteen age and gender matched healthy controls. DTI examinations were performed on a 1.5T scanner. A broad neuropsychological battery was administered, tapping attention, memory, processing speed, and executive functioning. The Total z-score consisted of the combined sum of all neuropsychological measures. In control subjects, we found no significant FA-Total z-score correlations. NPSLE, non-NPSLE, and control subjects differed significantly in terms of Total z-score (NPSLE?=?-2.25+/-1.77, non-NPSLE?=?-1.22+/-1.03, Controls?=?-0.10+/-.57; F?=?13.2, p<.001). In non-NPSLE subjects, FA within the right external capsule was significantly correlated with Total z-score. In NPSLE subjects, the largest FA-Total z-score clusters were observed within the left anterior thalamic radiation and right superior longitudinal fasciculus. In subsequent analyses the largest number of significant voxels linked FA with the Processing Speed z-score in NPSLE. The current results reflect objective white matter correlates of neuropsychological dysfunction in both NPSLE and (to a lesser degree) in non-NPSLE. non-NPSLE and NPSLE subjects did not differ significantly in terms of depression, as measured by the GDI; thus, previous hypotheses suggesting moderating effects of depression upon neuropsychological performance do not impact the current FA results.