BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The dentate nucleus, which is the largest of the cerebellar nuclei, plays a critical role in movement and cognition. The aim of our study was to assess any changes in dentate functional connectivity (FC) in adult relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RR-MS) patients and to investigate possible clinical correlates.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In all, 54 patients and 24 healthy subjects (HS) underwent multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), three-dimensional-T1-weighted and resting state (RS) functional images; they also underwent a cognitive evaluation, that is, attention and information processing speed, by means of the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT). Patients were also scored according to Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). RS-MRI data were analysed using FMRIB Software Library (FSL) tools, with the seed-based method to identify dentate FC.
RESULTS: When compared with HS, patients exhibited brain atrophy and widespread DTI abnormalities, as well as greater FC between the dentate nucleus and cortical areas, particularly in the frontal and parietal lobes. Within these areas, FC in patients correlated inversely with clinical impairment. Finally, FC correlated inversely with lesion load and microstructural brain damage.
CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that dentate FC at rest is altered in MS patients. Whether these functional changes are induced by the disease and play a compensatory role remains to be established.
- Journal Article