Structural connectivity-defined thalamic subregions have different functional connectivity abnormalities in multiple sclerosis patients: Implications for clinical correlations

A d'Ambrosio, M Hidalgo de la Cruz, P Valsasina, E Pagani, B Colombo, M Rodegher, G Comi, M Filippi, MA Rocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In spite of the well-known importance of thalami in multiple sclerosis (MS), only limited data on whole and subregional thalamic functional connectivity (FC) changes are available. Using diffusion tensor imaging, we performed a structural connectivity based thalamic parcellation and investigated subregional thalamic resting-state (RS) FC alterations and their relationship with clinical/cognitive measures in MS. MRI data from a reference set of healthy controls (HC) were used to parcellate the thalami into five subregions, according to their structural connectivity. For each thalamic subregion, a seed-based RS FC analysis was performed in 187 MS patients and 94 HC. Correlations between thalamic RS FC and clinical/cognitive variables were assessed. Compared to HC, MS patients showed increased intra- and inter-thalamic RS FC for almost all thalamic subregions, and increased RS FC between all thalamic subregions and the left insula. Frontal and motor thalamic subregions also showed reduced RS FC with the caudate nucleus. For the temporal thalamic subregion, we observed reduced RS FC with the ipsilateral thalamus, anterior and middle cingulate cortex, and cerebellum. Compared to cognitively preserved, cognitively impaired MS patients had higher thalamic RS FC with several temporal areas. In MS patients, lower RS FC between thalamic subregions and the caudate and cingulate cortex correlated with worse motor performance, whereas higher RS FC with the insula correlated with better motor performance. The main thalamic subregions have different RS-FC abnormalities in MS patients. Increased thalamic RS FC with the insula may have a compensatory role, whereas increased RS FC with temporal areas, observed in patients with cognitive impairment may reflect maladaptive mechanisms. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6005-6018
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume38
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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