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1.  Disconnection Mechanism and Regional Cortical Atrophy Contribute to Impaired Processing of Facial Expressions and Theory of Mind in Multiple Sclerosis: A Structural MRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82422.
Successful socialization requires the ability of understanding of others’ mental states. This ability called as mentalization (Theory of Mind) may become deficient and contribute to everyday life difficulties in multiple sclerosis. We aimed to explore the impact of brain pathology on mentalization performance in multiple sclerosis. Mentalization performance of 49 patients with multiple sclerosis was compared to 24 age- and gender matched healthy controls. T1- and T2-weighted three-dimensional brain MRI images were acquired at 3Tesla from patients with multiple sclerosis and 18 gender- and age matched healthy controls. We assessed overall brain cortical thickness in patients with multiple sclerosis and the scanned healthy controls, and measured the total and regional T1 and T2 white matter lesion volumes in patients with multiple sclerosis. Performances in tests of recognition of mental states and emotions from facial expressions and eye gazes correlated with both total T1-lesion load and regional T1-lesion load of association fiber tracts interconnecting cortical regions related to visual and emotion processing (genu and splenium of corpus callosum, right inferior longitudinal fasciculus, right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, uncinate fasciculus). Both of these tests showed correlations with specific cortical areas involved in emotion recognition from facial expressions (right and left fusiform face area, frontal eye filed), processing of emotions (right entorhinal cortex) and socially relevant information (left temporal pole). Thus, both disconnection mechanism due to white matter lesions and cortical thinning of specific brain areas may result in cognitive deficit in multiple sclerosis affecting emotion and mental state processing from facial expressions and contributing to everyday and social life difficulties of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3862626  PMID: 24349280
2.  A voxel-based morphometry study of disease severity correlates in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis 
Previous studies have shown a preferential loss of grey matter in fronto-temporal regions in patients with multiple sclerosis. Studies of correlates of disease severity are more controversial, because some studies have suggested an association between sensorimotor cortex atrophy and Expanded Disability Status Scale score, while others did not find such a correlation. The objective of this study was to assess the correlation of regional loss of grey matter and white matter with indexes of clinical and radiological severity in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, including the Expanded Disability Status Scale and lesion load. Correlations between Expanded Disability Status Scale, lesion load and disease duration were assessed in 128 patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (Expanded Disability Status Scale range 1.0–6.0) using optimized voxel-based morphometry. Bilateral loss of grey matter in sensorimotor cortices was correlated with Expanded Disability Status Scale, and tissue loss also involved adjacent white matter, extending along pyramidal tracts to the brainstem. Increasing lesion load was correlated with loss of deep grey matter and white matter. No specific region of grey matter or white matter showed a significant correlation with disease duration. These findings support the hypothesis that motor neuron involvement plays a major role in the progression of physical disability. Lesion load accrual affects mainly highly interconnected subcortical structures, while disease duration has a less significant impact on brain atrophy, probably owing to the inter-subject heterogeneity of the clinical course of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2841518  PMID: 20028706
multiple sclerosis; relapsing–remitting; voxel-based morphometry; Expanded Disability Status Scale; lesion load; cortical atrophy
3.  Arteriolosclerosis that affects multiple brain regions is linked to hippocampal sclerosis of ageing 
Brain  2013;137(1):255-267.
Hippocampal sclerosis of ageing is a prevalent brain disease that afflicts older persons and has been linked with cerebrovascular pathology. Arteriolosclerosis is a subtype of cerebrovascular pathology characterized by concentrically thickened arterioles. Here we report data from multiple large autopsy series (University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, Nun Study, and National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Centre) showing a specific association between hippocampal sclerosis of ageing pathology and arteriolosclerosis. The present analyses incorporate 226 cases of autopsy-proven hippocampal sclerosis of ageing and 1792 controls. Case–control comparisons were performed including digital pathological assessments for detailed analyses of blood vessel morphology. We found no evidence of associations between hippocampal sclerosis of ageing pathology and lacunar infarcts, large infarcts, Circle of Willis atherosclerosis, or cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Individuals with hippocampal sclerosis of ageing pathology did not show increased rates of clinically documented hypertension, diabetes, or other cardiac risk factors. The correlation between arteriolosclerosis and hippocampal sclerosis of ageing pathology was strong in multiple brain regions outside of the hippocampus. For example, the presence of arteriolosclerosis in the frontal cortex (Brodmann area 9) was strongly associated with hippocampal sclerosis of ageing pathology (P < 0.001). This enables informative evaluation of anatomical regions outside of the hippocampus. To assess the morphology of brain microvasculature far more rigorously than what is possible using semi-quantitative pathological scoring, we applied digital pathological (Aperio ScanScope) methods on a subsample of frontal cortex sections from hippocampal sclerosis of ageing (n = 15) and control (n = 42) cases. Following technical studies to optimize immunostaining methods for small blood vessel visualization, our analyses focused on sections immunostained for smooth muscle actin (a marker of arterioles) and CD34 (an endothelial marker), with separate analyses on grey and white matter. A total of 43 834 smooth muscle actin-positive vascular profiles and 603 798 CD34-positive vascular profiles were evaluated. In frontal cortex of cases with hippocampal sclerosis of ageing, smooth muscle actin-immunoreactive arterioles had thicker walls (P < 0.05), larger perimeters (P < 0.03), and larger vessel areas (P < 0.03) than controls. Unlike the arterioles, CD34-immunoreactive capillaries had dimensions that were unchanged in cases with hippocampal sclerosis of ageing versus controls. Arteriolosclerosis appears specific to hippocampal sclerosis of ageing brains, because brains with Alzheimer’s disease pathology did not show the same morphological alterations. We conclude that there may be a pathogenetic change in aged human brain arterioles that impacts multiple brain areas and contributes to hippocampal sclerosis of ageing.
PMCID: PMC3891448  PMID: 24271328
TDP-43; NACC; FTLD; SMA; HS-Ageing
4.  Brain tissue sodium concentration in multiple sclerosis: a sodium imaging study at 3 tesla 
Brain  2010;133(3):847-857.
Neuro-axonal degeneration occurs progressively from the onset of multiple sclerosis and is thought to be a significant cause of increasing clinical disability. Several histopathological studies of multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis have shown that the accumulation of sodium in axons can promote reverse action of the sodium/calcium exchanger that, in turn, leads to a lethal overload in intra-axonal calcium. We hypothesized that sodium magnetic resonance imaging would provide an indicator of cellular and metabolic integrity and ion homeostasis in patients with multiple sclerosis. Using a three-dimensional radial gradient-echo sequence with short echo time, we performed sodium magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T in 17 patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis and in 13 normal subjects. The absolute total tissue sodium concentration was measured in lesions and in several areas of normal-appearing white and grey matter in patients, and corresponding areas of white and grey matter in controls. A mixed model analysis of covariance was performed to compare regional tissue sodium concentration levels in patients and controls. Spearman correlations were used to determine the association of regional tissue sodium concentration levels in T2- and T1-weighted lesions with measures of normalized whole brain and grey and white matter volumes, and with expanded disability status scale scores. In patients, tissue sodium concentration levels were found to be elevated in acute and chronic lesions compared to areas of normal-appearing white matter (P < 0.0001). The tissue sodium concentration levels in areas of normal-appearing white matter were significantly higher than those in corresponding white matter regions in healthy controls (P < 0.0001). The tissue sodium concentration value averaged over lesions and over regions of normal-appearing white and grey matter was positively associated with T2-weighted (P ≤ 0.001 for all) and T1-weighted (P ≤ 0.006 for all) lesion volumes. In patients, only the tissue sodium concentration value averaged over regions of normal-appearing grey matter was negatively associated with the normalized grey matter volume (P = 0.0009). Finally, the expanded disability status scale score showed a mild, positive association with the mean tissue sodium concentration value in chronic lesions (P = 0.002), in regions of normal-appearing white matter (P = 0.004) and normal-appearing grey matter (P = 0.002). This study shows the feasibility of using in vivo sodium magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T in patients with multiple sclerosis. Our findings suggest that the abnormal values of the tissue sodium concentration in patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis might reflect changes in cellular composition of the lesions and/or changes in cellular and metabolic integrity. Sodium magnetic resonance imaging has the potential to provide insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms of tissue injury when correlation with histopathology becomes available.
PMCID: PMC2842511  PMID: 20110245
sodium imaging; multiple sclerosis; tissue sodium concentration; brain atrophy; clinical disability
5.  Widespread grey matter pathology dominates the longitudinal cerebral MRI and clinical landscape of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2014;137(9):2546-2555.
Menke/Koerner et al. use structural MRI to explore the extent of longitudinal changes in cerebral pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and their relationship to clinical features. A characteristic white matter tract pathological signature is seen cross-sectionally, while cortical involvement dominates longitudinally. This has implications for the development of biomarkers for diagnosis versus therapeutic monitoring.
Diagnosis, stratification and monitoring of disease progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis currently rely on clinical history and examination. The phenotypic heterogeneity of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including extramotor cognitive impairments is now well recognized. Candidate biomarkers have shown variable sensitivity and specificity, and studies have been mainly undertaken only cross-sectionally. Sixty patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (without a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or dementia) underwent baseline multimodal magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T. Grey matter pathology was identified through analysis of T1-weighted images using voxel-based morphometry. White matter pathology was assessed using tract-based spatial statistics analysis of indices derived from diffusion tensor imaging. Cross-sectional analyses included group comparison with a group of healthy controls (n = 36) and correlations with clinical features, including regional disability, clinical upper motor neuron signs and cognitive impairment. Patients were offered 6-monthly follow-up MRI, and the last available scan was used for a separate longitudinal analysis (n = 27). In cross-sectional study, the core signature of white matter pathology was confirmed within the corticospinal tract and callosal body, and linked strongly to clinical upper motor neuron burden, but also to limb disability subscore and progression rate. Localized grey matter abnormalities were detected in a topographically appropriate region of the left motor cortex in relation to bulbar disability, and in Broca’s area and its homologue in relation to verbal fluency. Longitudinal analysis revealed progressive and widespread changes in the grey matter, notably including the basal ganglia. In contrast there was limited white matter pathology progression, in keeping with a previously unrecognized limited change in individual clinical upper motor neuron scores, despite advancing disability. Although a consistent core white matter pathology was found cross-sectionally, grey matter pathology was dominant longitudinally, and included progression in clinically silent areas such as the basal ganglia, believed to reflect their wider cortical connectivity. Such changes were significant across a range of apparently sporadic patients rather than being a genotype-specific effect. It is also suggested that the upper motor neuron lesion in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may be relatively constant during the established symptomatic period. These findings have implications for the development of effective diagnostic versus therapeutic monitoring magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may be characterized initially by a predominantly white matter tract pathological signature, evolving as a widespread cortical network degeneration.
PMCID: PMC4132644  PMID: 24951638
motor neuron disease; biomarker; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging
6.  Magnetization transfer ratio abnormalities reflect clinically relevant grey matter damage in multiple sclerosis 
In multiple sclerosis, grey matter (GM) damage appears more clinically relevant than either white matter damage or lesion load.
We investigated if normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and grey matter tissue changes assessed by magnetization transfer ratio were associated with long-term disability.
Sixty-nine people were assessed 20 years after presentation with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) [28 still CIS, 31 relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, 10 secondary progressive multiple sclerosis], along with 19 healthy subjects. Mean magnetization transfer ratio, peak height (PH) and peak location of the normalized magnetization transfer ratio histograms were determined in NAWM and grey matter, as well as, white matter and GM Fraction (GMF) and T2-weighted lesion load.
Median expanded disability status scale for multiple sclerosis patients was 2.5 (range 1–8). GM-PH, and less so, NAWM mean and peak location, were lower in multiple sclerosis patients (P = 0.009) versus controls, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis versus CIS (P = 0.008) and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis versus relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (P = 0.002). GM-PH (as well as GMF) correlated with expanded disability status scale (rs = −0.49; P = 0.001) and multiple sclerosis functional score (rs = 0.51; P = 0.001). GM-PH independently predicted disability with similar strength to the associations of GMF with clinical measures.
Grey matter damage was related to long-term disability in multiple sclerosis cohort with a relatively low median expanded disability status scale. Markers of intrinsic grey matter damage (magnetization transfer ratio) and tissue loss offer clinically relevant information in multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3040974  PMID: 19435751
clinically isolated syndromes; grey matter atrophy; lesion load; magnetization transfer ratio; multiple sclerosis; white matter atrophy
7.  Anatomical Alterations of the Visual Motion Processing Network in Migraine with and without Aura 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e402.
Patients suffering from migraine with aura (MWA) and migraine without aura (MWoA) show abnormalities in visual motion perception during and between attacks. Whether this represents the consequences of structural changes in motion-processing networks in migraineurs is unknown. Moreover, the diagnosis of migraine relies on patient's history, and finding differences in the brain of migraineurs might help to contribute to basic research aimed at better understanding the pathophysiology of migraine.
Methods and Findings
To investigate a common potential anatomical basis for these disturbances, we used high-resolution cortical thickness measurement and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine the motion-processing network in 24 migraine patients (12 with MWA and 12 MWoA) and 15 age-matched healthy controls (HCs). We found increased cortical thickness of motion-processing visual areas MT+ and V3A in migraineurs compared to HCs. Cortical thickness increases were accompanied by abnormalities of the subjacent white matter. In addition, DTI revealed that migraineurs have alterations in superior colliculus and the lateral geniculate nucleus, which are also involved in visual processing.
A structural abnormality in the network of motion-processing areas could account for, or be the result of, the cortical hyperexcitability observed in migraineurs. The finding in patients with both MWA and MWoA of thickness abnormalities in area V3A, previously described as a source in spreading changes involved in visual aura, raises the question as to whether a “silent” cortical spreading depression develops as well in MWoA. In addition, these experimental data may provide clinicians and researchers with a noninvasively acquirable migraine biomarker.
A structural abnormality in the network of motion-processing areas could account for, or be the result of, the cortical hyperexcitability seen in people who have migraine.
Editors' Summary
Migraine is a disabling brain disorder that affects more than one in ten people during their lifetimes. It is characterized by severe, recurrent headaches, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. In some migraineurs (people who have migraines), the headaches are preceded by neurological disturbances known as “aura.” These usually affect vision, causing illusions of flashing lights, zig-zag lines, or blind spots. There are many triggers for migraine attacks—including some foods, stress, and bright lights—and every migraineur has to learn what triggers his or her attacks. There is no cure for migraine, although over-the-counter painkillers can ease the symptoms and doctors can prescribe stronger remedies or drugs to reduce the frequency of attacks. Exactly what causes migraine is unclear but scientists think that, for some reason, the brains of migraineurs are hyperexcitable. That is, some nerve cells in their brains overreact when they receive electrical messages from the body. This triggers a local disturbance of brain function called “cortical spreading depression,” which, in turn, causes aura, headache, and the other symptoms of migraine.
Why Was This Study Done?
Researchers need to know more about what causes migraine to find better treatments. One clue comes from the observation that motion perception is abnormal in migraineurs, even between attacks—they can be very sensitive to visually induced motion sickness, for example. Another clue is that aura are usually visual. So could brain regions that process visual information be abnormal in people who have migraines? In this study, the researchers investigated the structure of the motion processing parts of the brain in people who have migraine with aura, in people who have migraine without aura, and in unaffected individuals to see whether there were any differences that might help them understand migraine.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used two forms of magnetic resonance imaging—a noninvasive way to produce pictures of internal organs—to examine the brains of migraineurs (when they weren't having a migraine) and healthy controls. They concentrated on two brain regions involved in motion processing known as the MT+ and V3A areas and first measured the cortical thickness of these areas—the cortex is the wrinkled layer of gray matter on the outside of the brain that processes information sent from the body. They found that the cortical thickness was increased in both of these areas in migraineurs when compared to healthy controls. There was no difference in cortical thickness between migraineurs who had aura and those who did not, but the area of cortical thickening in V3A corresponded to the source of cortical spreading depression previously identified in a person who had migraine with aura. The researchers also found differences between the white matter (the part of the brain that transfers information between different regions of the gray matter) immediately below the V3A and MT+ areas in the migraineurs and the controls but again not between the two groups of migraineurs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study provides new information about migraine. First, it identifies structural changes in the brains of people who have migraines. Until now, it has been thought that abnormal brain function causes migraine but that migraineurs have a normal brain structure. The observed structural differences might either account for or be caused by the hyperexcitability that triggers migraines. Because migraine runs in families, examining the brains of children of migraineurs as they grow up might indicate which of these options is correct, although it is possible that abnormalities in brain areas not examined here actually trigger migraines. Second, the study addresses a controversial question about migraine: Is migraine with aura the same as migraine without aura? The similar brain changes in both types of migraine suggest that they are one disorder. Third, the abnormalities in areas MT+ and V3A could help to explain why migraineurs have problems with visual processing even in between attacks. Finally, this study suggests that it might be possible to develop a noninvasive test to help doctors diagnose migraine.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has several pages on migraine
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers patient information on migraine and other headaches
The NHS Direct Online contains patient information on migraine from the UK National Health Service
MAGNUM provides information from The US National Migraine Association
The Migraine Trust is a UK charity that supports research and provides support for patients
The Migraine Aura Foundation is a site about aura that includes a section on art and aura
PMCID: PMC1609120  PMID: 17048979
8.  Disconnected Aging: Cerebral White Matter Integrity and Age-Related Differences in Cognition 
Neuroscience  2013;0:187-205.
Cognition arises as a result of coordinated processing among distributed brain regions and disruptions to communication within these neural networks can result in cognitive dysfunction. Cortical disconnection may thus contribute to the declines in some aspects of cognitive functioning observed in healthy aging. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is ideally suited for the study of cortical disconnection as it provides indices of structural integrity within interconnected neural networks. The current review summarizes results of previous DTI aging research with the aim of identifying consistent patterns of age-related differences in white matter integrity, and of relationships between measures of white matter integrity and behavioral performance as a function of adult age. We outline a number of future directions that will broaden our current understanding of these brain-behavior relationships in aging. Specifically, future research should aim to (1) investigate multiple models of age-brain-behavior relationships; (2) determine the tract-specificity versus global effect of aging on white matter integrity; (3) assess the relative contribution of normal variation in white matter integrity versus white matter lesions to age-related differences in cognition; (4) improve the definition of specific aspects of cognitive functioning related to age-related differences in white matter integrity using information processing tasks; and (5) combine multiple imaging modalities (e.g., resting-state and task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging; fMRI) with DTI to clarify the role of cerebral white matter integrity in cognitive aging.
PMCID: PMC4032380  PMID: 24280637
white matter integrity; diffusion tensor imaging; aging; cognition; magnetic resonance imaging; disconnection
9.  The Clinical Impact of Cerebellar Grey Matter Pathology in Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96193.
The cerebellum is an important site for cortical demyelination in multiple sclerosis, but the functional significance of this finding is not fully understood.
To evaluate the clinical and cognitive impact of cerebellar grey-matter pathology in multiple sclerosis patients.
Forty-two relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients and 30 controls underwent clinical assessment including the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and cerebellar functional system (FS) score, and cognitive evaluation, including the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) and the Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (SDMT). Magnetic resonance imaging was performed with a 3T scanner and variables of interest were: brain white-matter and cortical lesion load, cerebellar intracortical and leukocortical lesion volumes, and brain cortical and cerebellar white-matter and grey-matter volumes.
After multivariate analysis high burden of cerebellar intracortical lesions was the only predictor for the EDSS (p<0.001), cerebellar FS (p = 0.002), arm function (p = 0.049), and for leg function (p<0.001). Patients with high burden of cerebellar leukocortical lesions had lower PASAT scores (p = 0.013), while patients with greater volumes of cerebellar intracortical lesions had worse SDMT scores (p = 0.015).
Cerebellar grey-matter pathology is widely present and contributes to clinical dysfunction in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients, independently of brain grey-matter damage.
PMCID: PMC4008536  PMID: 24789257
10.  Surface based laminar analysis of diffusion abnormalities in cortical and white matter layers in neocortical epilepsy 
Epilepsia  2013;54(4):667-677.
Microstructural alterations seen in the epileptic cortex have been implicated as a cause and also result of multiple seizure activity. In the present study, we evaluated water diffusion changes at different cortical thickness fractions and in the underlying white matter of the epileptic cortex and compared them with electrographically normal cortex and also with corresponding cortical regions of healthy controls.
We selected 18 children with normal MRI who underwent two-stage epilepsy surgery to control seizures of neocortical origin, and compared their MR images with those of 18 age-matched healthy controls. First, delineation of the grey-white and grey-pial intersection surfaces was performed on high-resolution volumetric T1 MR images. Using the delineated surfaces as reference, diffusion values were measured at different cortical thickness fractions and in the underlying white matter at various depths, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Cortical regions representing seizure onset and electrographically normal cortex were differentiated by electrocorticography in the epilepsy patients.
Key findings
We observed different patterns of diffusion abnormalities in both the seizure onset and electrographically normal cortical regions when compared to healthy controls. In the seizure onset regions, a marked increase in diffusivity was noted in the cortical grey matter and this increase was most pronounced in the outer fraction of the grey matter. Similarly, increased diffusivity was noted in the white matter underlying the epileptic cortex. The electrographically normal cortex, in contrast, showed decreased diffusivity in inner and middle cortical fractions compared to the controls. The white matter underlying the electrographically normal cortex did not show any difference in diffusivity between the epileptic children and controls. Finally, both the cortical grey matter and the underlying white matter regions showed decreased anisotropy in epileptic as well as electrographically normal regions when compared to controls.
Our results suggest specific patterns of diffusion changes in the cortical fractions and the underlying white matter of the epileptic region compared to electrographically normal and normal control regions. The abnormal increase in diffusivity of the superficial cortex might be associated with microstructural abnormalities commonly seen in layers II through IV of epileptic cortex. Such combined use of a high-resolution structural image to extract the laminar diffusion values, which are highly sensitive to microstructural alterations, could be of clinical value in localizing epileptogenic cortex.
PMCID: PMC3618513  PMID: 23448199
epilepsy; diffusion; surface; seizure; DTI
11.  Altered Structural Connectivity in Neonates at Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia: A Combined Study Using Morphological and White Matter Networks 
NeuroImage  2012;62(3):1622-1633.
Recently, an increasing body of evidence suggests that developmental abnormalities related to schizophrenia may occur as early as the neonatal stage. Impairments of brain gray matter and wiring problems of axonal fibers are commonly suspected to be responsible for the disconnection hypothesis in schizophrenia adults, but significantly less is known in neonates. In this study, we investigated 26 neonates who were at genetic risk for schizophrenia and 26 demographically matched healthy neonates using both morphological and white matter networks to examine possible brain connectivity abnormalities. The results showed that both populations exhibited small-world network topology. Morphological network analysis indicated that the brain structural associations of the high-risk neonates tended to have globally lower efficiency, longer connection distance, and less number of hub nodes and edges with relatively higher betweenness. Subgroup analysis showed that male neonates were significantly disease-affected, while the female neonates were not. White matter network analysis, however, showed that the fiber networks were globally unaffected, although several subcortical-cortical connections had significantly less number of fibers in high-risk neonates. This study provides new evidences in support of the disconnection hypothesis, reinforcing the notion that the genetic risk of schizophrenia induces alterations in both gray matter structural associations and white matter connectivity.
PMCID: PMC3408572  PMID: 22613620
High genetic risk; newborn infant; diffusion tensor imaging; schizophrenia; brain development; network analysis
12.  Parietofrontal integrity determines neural modulation associated with grasping imagery after stroke 
Brain  2012;135(2):596-614.
Chronic stroke patients with heterogeneous lesions, but no direct damage to the primary sensorimotor cortex, are capable of longitudinally acquiring the ability to modulate sensorimotor rhythms using grasping imagery of the affected hand. Volitional modulation of neural activity can be used to drive grasping functions of the paralyzed hand through a brain–computer interface. The neural substrates underlying this skill are not known. Here, we investigated the impact of individual patient's lesion pathology on functional and structural network integrity related to this volitional skill. Magnetoencephalography data acquired throughout training was used to derive functional networks. Structural network models and local estimates of extralesional white matter microstructure were constructed using T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data. We employed a graph theoretical approach to characterize emergent properties of distributed interactions between nodal brain regions of these networks. We report that interindividual variability in patients’ lesions led to differential impairment of functional and structural network characteristics related to successful post-training sensorimotor rhythm modulation skill. Patients displaying greater magnetoencephalography global cost-efficiency, a measure of information integration within the distributed functional network, achieved greater levels of skill. Analysis of lesion damage to structural network connectivity revealed that the impact on nodal betweenness centrality of the ipsilesional primary motor cortex, a measure that characterizes the importance of a brain region for integrating visuomotor information between frontal and parietal cortical regions and related thalamic nuclei, correlated with skill. Edge betweenness centrality, an analogous measure, which assesses the role of specific white matter fibre pathways in network integration, showed a similar relationship between skill and a portion of the ipsilesional superior longitudinal fascicle connecting premotor and posterior parietal visuomotor regions known to be crucially involved in normal grasping behaviour. Finally, estimated white matter microstructure integrity in regions of the contralesional superior longitudinal fascicle adjacent to primary sensorimotor and posterior parietal cortex, as well as grey matter volume co-localized to these specific regions, positively correlated with sensorimotor rhythm modulation leading to successful brain–computer interface control. Thus, volitional modulation of ipsilesional neural activity leading to control of paralyzed hand grasping function through a brain–computer interface after longitudinal training relies on structural and functional connectivity in both ipsilesional and contralesional parietofrontal pathways involved in visuomotor information processing. Extant integrity of this structural network may serve as a future predictor of response to longitudinal therapeutic interventions geared towards training sensorimotor rhythms in the lesioned brain, secondarily improving grasping function through brain–computer interface applications.
PMCID: PMC3286199  PMID: 22232595
motor learning; skill; stroke; rehabilitation; brain–computer interface; imagery
13.  Tracking iron in multiple sclerosis: a combined imaging and histopathological study at 7 Tesla 
Brain  2011;134(12):3599-3612.
Previous authors have shown that the transverse relaxivity R2* and frequency shifts that characterize gradient echo signal decay in magnetic resonance imaging are closely associated with the distribution of iron and myelin in the brain's white matter. In multiple sclerosis, iron accumulation in brain tissue may reflect a multiplicity of pathological processes. Hence, iron may have the unique potential to serve as an in vivo magnetic resonance imaging tracer of disease pathology. To investigate the ability of iron in tracking multiple sclerosis-induced pathology by magnetic resonance imaging, we performed qualitative histopathological analysis of white matter lesions and normal-appearing white matter regions with variable appearance on gradient echo magnetic resonance imaging at 7 Tesla. The samples used for this study derive from two patients with multiple sclerosis and one non-multiple sclerosis donor. Magnetic resonance images were acquired using a whole body 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner equipped with a 24-channel receive-only array designed for tissue imaging. A 3D multi-gradient echo sequence was obtained and quantitative R2* and phase maps were reconstructed. Immunohistochemical stainings for myelin and oligodendrocytes, microglia and macrophages, ferritin and ferritin light polypeptide were performed on 3- to 5-µm thick paraffin sections. Iron was detected with Perl's staining and 3,3′-diaminobenzidine-tetrahydrochloride enhanced Turnbull blue staining. In multiple sclerosis tissue, iron presence invariably matched with an increase in R2*. Conversely, R2* increase was not always associated with the presence of iron on histochemical staining. We interpret this finding as the effect of embedding, sectioning and staining procedures. These processes likely affected the histopathological analysis results but not the magnetic resonance imaging that was obtained before tissue manipulations. Several cellular sources of iron were identified. These sources included oligodendrocytes in normal-appearing white matter and activated macrophages/microglia at the edges of white matter lesions. Additionally, in white matter lesions, iron precipitation in aggregates typical of microbleeds was shown by the Perl's staining. Our combined imaging and pathological study shows that multi-gradient echo magnetic resonance imaging is a sensitive technique for the identification of iron in the brain tissue of patients with multiple sclerosis. However, magnetic resonance imaging-identified iron does not necessarily reflect pathology and may also be seen in apparently normal tissue. Iron identification by multi-gradient echo magnetic resonance imaging in diseased tissues can shed light on the pathological processes when coupled with topographical information and patient disease history.
PMCID: PMC3235560  PMID: 22171355
multiple sclerosis; iron; myelin; magnetic resonance imaging; multi-gradient echo magnetic resonance imaging
14.  Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review 
Lay Abstract
White matter tracts are like the “highways” of the brain, allowing for fast and efficient communication among diverse brain regions. The purpose of this paper is to review the results of autism studies that have used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), which is a neuroimaging method that allows us to examine the structure and integrity of these white matter tracts. From the 48 studies we reviewed, persons with ASD tended to have decreased white matter integrity spanning across many regions of the brain but most consistently in regions such as the corpus callosum (connecting the left and right hemispheres and associated with motor skill and complex information processing), the cingulum bundles (connecting regions along the middle-line of the brain with important frontal projections and associated with executive function), and white matter tracts that pass through the temporal lobe (connecting temporal lobe regions with other brain regions and associated with social functioning). The pattern of results in these studies suggests that the white matter tracts may be atypical in persons with ASD. Additionally, the review suggests that people with ASD may not exhibit the typical left-greater-than-right-brain asymmetry in white matter integrity compared to people with typical development. White matter alterations in persons with ASD are a target of emerging interventions and may help identify the brain basis of individual differences in this population.
Scientific Abstract
White matter tracts of the brain allow neurons and neuronal networks to communicate and function with high efficiency. The aim of this review is to briefly introduce Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) methods that examine white matter tracts and then to give an overview of the studies that have investigated white matter integrity in the brains of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). From the 48 studies we reviewed, persons with ASD tended to have decreased fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity in white matter tracts spanning many regions of the brain but most consistently in regions such as the corpus callosum, cingulum, and aspects of the temporal lobe. This decrease in fractional anisotropy was often accompanied by increased radial diffusivity. Additionally, the review suggests possible atypical lateralization in some white matter tracts of the brain and a possible atypical developmental trajectory of white matter microstructure in persons with ASD. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3474893  PMID: 22786754
Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Neuroimaging; Autism; White Matter
15.  Structural imaging differences and longitudinal changes in primary lateral sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2012;2:151-160.
Magnetic resonance imaging measures have been proposed as objective markers to study upper motor neuron loss in motor neuron disorders. Cross-sectional studies have identified imaging differences between groups of healthy controls and patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) that correlate with disease severity, but it is not known whether imaging measures change as disease progresses. Additionally, whether imaging measures change in a similar fashion with disease progression in PLS and ALS is unclear. To address these questions, clinical and imaging evaluations were first carried out in a prospective cross-sectional study of 23 ALS and 22 PLS patients with similar motor impairment and 19 age-matched healthy controls. Clinical evaluations consisted of a neurological examination, the ALS Functional rating scale-revised, and measures of finger tapping, gait, and timed speech. Age and ALSFRS score were not different, but PLS patients had longer duration of symptoms. Imaging measures examined were cortical thickness, regional brain volumes, and diffusion tensor imaging of the corticospinal tract and callosum. Imaging measures that differed from controls in a cross-sectional vertex-wise analysis were used as regions of interest for longitudinal analysis, which was carried out in 9 of the ALS patients (interval 1.26 ± 0.72 years) and 12 PLS patients (interval 2.08 ± 0.93 years). In the cross-sectional study both groups had areas of cortical thinning, which was more extensive in motor regions in PLS patients. At follow-up, clinical measures declined more in ALS than PLS patients. Cortical thinning and grey matter volume loss of the precentral gyri progressed over the follow-up interval. Fractional anisotropy of the corticospinal tracts remained stable, but the cross-sectional area declined in ALS patients. Changes in clinical measures correlated with changes in precentral cortical thickness and grey matter volume. The rate of cortical thinning was greater in ALS patients with shorter disease durations, suggesting that thickness decreases in a non-linear fashion. Thus, cortical thickness changes are a potential imaging marker for disease progression in individual patients, but the magnitude of change likely depends on disease duration and progression rate. Differences between PLS and ALS patients in the magnitude of thinning in cross-sectional studies are likely to reflect longer disease duration. We conclude that there is an evolution of structural imaging changes with disease progression in motor neuron disorders. Some changes, such as diffusion properties of the corticospinal tract, occur early while cortical thinning and volume loss occur later.
► In a cross-sectional study, ALS and PLS patients had thinning of the motor cortex compared to age-matched controls ► Progressive thinning and atrophy of the precentral gyrus were correlated with clinical progression over a 1- or 2-year longitudinal follow-up ► The rate of cortical thinning was faster in ALS patients with a shorter disease duration ► Fractional anisotropy of corticospinal tracts, though reduced at baseline in ALS and PLS patients remained stable over longitudinal follow-up ► Imaging changes evolve with disease progression in motor neuron disorders ► Changes in white matter diffusion properties occur early, while cortical thinning and atrophy occur later and over a longer time frame
PMCID: PMC3778247  PMID: 24179768
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALSFRS-R, ALS functional rating scale, revised; CC, corpus callosum; CST, corticospinal tract; DTI, diffusion tensor imaging; FA, fractional anisotropy; MD, mean diffusivity; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; PLS, primary lateral sclerosis; UMN, upper motor neuron; Cortical thickness; Longitudinal studies; Motor neuron disease; Diffusion tensor imaging; FreeSurfer
16.  In vivo imaging of cortical pathology in multiple sclerosis using ultra-high field MRI 
Neurology  2009;73(12):941-948.
We used ultra-high field MRI to visualize cortical lesion types described by neuropathology in 16 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) compared with 8 age-matched controls; to characterize the contrast properties of cortical lesions including T2*, T2, T1, and phase images; and to investigate the relationship between cortical lesion types and clinical data.
We collected, on a 7-T scanner, 2-dimensional fast low-angle shot (FLASH)-T2*-weighted spoiled gradient-echo, T2-weighted turbo spin-echo (TSE) images (0.33 × 033 × 1 mm3), and a 3-dimensional magnetization-prepared rapid gradient echo.
Overall, 199 cortical lesions were detected in patients on both FLASH-T2* and T2-TSE scans. Seven-tesla MRI allowed for characterization of cortical plaques into type I (leukocortical), type II (intracortical), and type III/IV (subpial extending partly or completely through the cortical width) lesions as described histopathologically. Types III and IV were the most frequent type of cortical plaques (50.2%), followed by type I (36.2%) and type II (13.6%) lesions. Each lesion type was more frequent in secondary progressive than in relapsing–remitting MS. This difference, however, was significant only for type III/IV lesions. T2*-weighted images showed the highest, while phase images showed the lowest, contrast-to-noise ratio for all cortical lesion types. In patients, the number of type III/IV lesions was associated with greater disability (p < 0.02 by Spearman test) and older age (p < 0.04 by Spearman test).
Seven-tesla MRI detected different histologic cortical lesion types in our small multiple sclerosis (MS) sample, suggesting, if validated in a larger population, that it may prove a valuable tool to assess the contribution of cortical MS pathology to clinical disability.
= analysis of variance;
= background noise;
= contrast-to-noise ratio;
= double-inversion recovery;
= Expanded Disability Status Scale;
= fluid-attenuated inversion recovery;
= fast low-angle shot;
= gray matter;
= magnetization-prepared rapid gradient echo;
= magnetic resonance;
= multiple sclerosis;
= normal-appearing cortical gray matter;
= radiofrequency;
= region of interest;
= relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis;
= signal-to-noise ratio;
= secondary progressive multiple sclerosis;
= time of acquisition;
= echo time;
= repetition time;
= turbo spin-echo;
= white matter.
PMCID: PMC2754332  PMID: 19641168
17.  Brain Anatomical Network and Intelligence 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(5):e1000395.
Intuitively, higher intelligence might be assumed to correspond to more efficient information transfer in the brain, but no direct evidence has been reported from the perspective of brain networks. In this study, we performed extensive analyses to test the hypothesis that individual differences in intelligence are associated with brain structural organization, and in particular that higher scores on intelligence tests are related to greater global efficiency of the brain anatomical network. We constructed binary and weighted brain anatomical networks in each of 79 healthy young adults utilizing diffusion tensor tractography and calculated topological properties of the networks using a graph theoretical method. Based on their IQ test scores, all subjects were divided into general and high intelligence groups and significantly higher global efficiencies were found in the networks of the latter group. Moreover, we showed significant correlations between IQ scores and network properties across all subjects while controlling for age and gender. Specifically, higher intelligence scores corresponded to a shorter characteristic path length and a higher global efficiency of the networks, indicating a more efficient parallel information transfer in the brain. The results were consistently observed not only in the binary but also in the weighted networks, which together provide convergent evidence for our hypothesis. Our findings suggest that the efficiency of brain structural organization may be an important biological basis for intelligence.
Author Summary
Networks of interconnected brain regions coordinate brain activities. Information is processed in the grey matter (cortex and subcortical structures) and passed along the network via whitish, fatty-coated fiber bundles, the white matter. Using maps of these white matter tracks, we provided evidence that higher intelligence may result from more efficient information transfer. Specifically, we hypothesized that higher IQ derives from higher global efficiency of the brain anatomical network. Seventy-nine healthy young adults were divided into general and high IQ groups. We used diffusion tensor tractography, which maps brain white matter fibers, to construct anatomical brain networks for each subject and calculated the network properties using both binary and weighted networks. We consistently found that the high intelligence group's brain network was significantly more efficient than was the general intelligence group's. Moreover, IQ scores were significantly correlated with network properties, such as shorter path lengths and higher overall efficiency, indicating that the information transfer in the brain was more efficient. These converging evidences support the hypothesis that the efficiency of the organization of the brain structure may be an important biological basis for intelligence.
PMCID: PMC2683575  PMID: 19492086
18.  Abnormal Cortical Networks in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(11):e1001006.
Recently, many researchers have used graph theory to study the aberrant brain structures in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and have made great progress. However, the characteristics of the cortical network in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are still largely unexplored. In this study, the gray matter volumes obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for all brain regions except the cerebellum were parcellated into 90 areas using the automated anatomical labeling (AAL) template to construct cortical networks for 98 normal controls (NCs), 113 MCIs and 91 ADs. The measurements of the network properties were calculated for each of the three groups respectively. We found that all three cortical networks exhibited small-world properties and those strong interhemispheric correlations existed between bilaterally homologous regions. Among the three cortical networks, we found the greatest clustering coefficient and the longest absolute path length in AD, which might indicate that the organization of the cortical network was the least optimal in AD. The small-world measures of the MCI network exhibited intermediate values. This finding is logical given that MCI is considered to be the transitional stage between normal aging and AD. Out of all the between-group differences in the clustering coefficient and absolute path length, only the differences between the AD and normal control groups were statistically significant. Compared with the normal controls, the MCI and AD groups retained their hub regions in the frontal lobe but showed a loss of hub regions in the temporal lobe. In addition, altered interregional correlations were detected in the parahippocampus gyrus, medial temporal lobe, cingulum, fusiform, medial frontal lobe, and orbital frontal gyrus in groups with MCI and AD. Similar to previous studies of functional connectivity, we also revealed increased interregional correlations within the local brain lobes and disrupted long distance interregional correlations in groups with MCI and AD.
Author Summary
Understanding the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is essential. We investigated networks of cortical connectivity along a continuum from normal to AD. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) has been implicated as transitional between normal aging and AD. By investigating the characteristics of cortical networks in these three stages (normal, MCI and AD), we found that all three networks exhibited small-world properties. These properties indicate efficient information transfer in the human brain. We also found that the small-world measures of the MCI network were intermediate to those of the normal controls and the patients with AD. This supports the opinion that MCI is a transitional stage between normal aging and AD. Additionally, we found altered interregional correlations in patients with MCI and AD, which may indicate that a compensatory system interacts with cerebral atrophy. The presence of compensatory mechanisms in patients with MCI and AD may enable them to use additional cognitive resources to function on a more nearly normal level. In future, we need to integrate the multi-level network features obtained with various functional and anatomical brain imaging technologies on different scales to understand the pathophysiological mechanism of MCI and AD. We propose brainnetome to represent such integration framework.
PMCID: PMC2987916  PMID: 21124954
19.  Quality of life in multiple sclerosis is associated with lesion burden and brain volume measures 
Neurology  2009;72(20):1760-1765.
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is reduced in multiple sclerosis (MS). It is unclear whether HRQOL is associated with white matter lesion burden or measures of brain atrophy.
A cross-sectional baseline analysis of 507 patients with MS in a prospective cohort study at the University of California, San Francisco was performed. Multivariate linear regression models were used to determine whether MRI measures were associated with the Emotional Well-Being and Thinking/Fatigue subscale scores of the Functional Assessment in Multiple Sclerosis, a validated HRQOL measure in MS. The difference in each MRI metric associated with a minimal clinically important difference in each HRQOL subscale was calculated.
Higher T1 lesion load (15 mL; p = 0.024), normalized T1 lesion volume (20 mL; p = 0.016), or T2 lesion load (25 mL; p = 0.028) was associated with worse scores for Emotional Well-Being. Meaningfully lower scores on this subscale were correlated with lower normalized gray matter volume (118 mL; p = 0.037). Reduced Thinking/Fatigue scores were associated with higher normalized T1 lesion volume (21 mL; p = 0.024), or T2 lesion load (22 mL; p = 0.010) and with lower normalized gray matter (87 mL; p = 0.004), white matter (85 mL; p = 0.025), or brain parenchymal (98 mL; p = 0.001) volume.
Aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in multiple sclerosis are associated with MRI evidence of white matter lesions and brain atrophy. These findings strengthen the argument for the use of HRQOL outcome measures in trials and suggest that lesion burden on conventional MRI is important for HRQOL.
= clinically isolated syndrome;
= disease-modifying therapy;
= Expanded Disability Status Scale;
= Emotional Well-Being;
= Functional Assessment in Multiple Sclerosis;
= field of view;
= health-related quality of life;
= interquartile range;
= inversion recovery spoiled gradient-recalled;
= Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test;
= primary progressive multiple sclerosis;
= progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis;
= multiple sclerosis;
= Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite;
= normalized brain parenchymal volume;
= number of excitations;
= normalized gray matter volume;
= normalized T1 lesion volume;
= normalized white matter volume;
= relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis;
= secondary progressive multiple sclerosis;
= echo time;
= inversion time;
= Thinking/Fatigue;
= repetition time;
= University of California, San Francisco.
PMCID: PMC2683738  PMID: 19451531
20.  Aerobic Fitness is Associated with Gray Matter Volume and White Matter Integrity in Multiple Sclerosis 
Brain research  2009;1341C:41-51.
Alterations in gray and white matter have been well documented in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Severity and extent of such brain tissue damage have been associated with cognitive impairment, disease duration and neurological disability, making quantitative indices of tissue damage important markers of disease progression. In this study, we investigated the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and measures of gray matter atrophy and white matter integrity. Employing a voxel-based approach to analyses of gray matter and white matter, we specifically examined whether higher levels of fitness in multiple sclerosis participants were associated with preserved gray matter volume and integrity of white matter. We found a positive association between cardiorespiratory fitness and regional gray matter volumes and higher focal fractional anisotropy values. Statistical mapping revealed that higher levels of fitness were associated with greater gray matter volume in the midline cortical structures including the medial frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex and the precuneus. Further, we also found increasing levels of fitness were associated with higher fractional anisotropy in the left thalamic radiation and right anterior corona radiata. Both preserved gray matter volume and white-matter tract integrity were associated with better performance on measures of processing speed. Taken together, these results suggest that fitness exerts a prophylactic influence on the cerebral atrophy observed early on preserving neuronal integrity in multiple sclerosis, thereby reducing long-term disability.
PMCID: PMC2884046  PMID: 19560443
Cortical atrophy; normal appearing gray matter; normal appearing white matter; cardiorespiratory fitness; processing speed; relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; neuroplasticity
21.  Influence of Wiring Cost on the Large-Scale Architecture of Human Cortical Connectivity 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(4):e1003557.
In the past two decades some fundamental properties of cortical connectivity have been discovered: small-world structure, pronounced hierarchical and modular organisation, and strong core and rich-club structures. A common assumption when interpreting results of this kind is that the observed structural properties are present to enable the brain's function. However, the brain is also embedded into the limited space of the skull and its wiring has associated developmental and metabolic costs. These basic physical and economic aspects place separate, often conflicting, constraints on the brain's connectivity, which must be characterized in order to understand the true relationship between brain structure and function. To address this challenge, here we ask which, and to what extent, aspects of the structural organisation of the brain are conserved if we preserve specific spatial and topological properties of the brain but otherwise randomise its connectivity. We perform a comparative analysis of a connectivity map of the cortical connectome both on high- and low-resolutions utilising three different types of surrogate networks: spatially unconstrained (‘random’), connection length preserving (‘spatial’), and connection length optimised (‘reduced’) surrogates. We find that unconstrained randomisation markedly diminishes all investigated architectural properties of cortical connectivity. By contrast, spatial and reduced surrogates largely preserve most properties and, interestingly, often more so in the reduced surrogates. Specifically, our results suggest that the cortical network is less tightly integrated than its spatial constraints would allow, but more strongly segregated than its spatial constraints would necessitate. We additionally find that hierarchical organisation and rich-club structure of the cortical connectivity are largely preserved in spatial and reduced surrogates and hence may be partially attributable to cortical wiring constraints. In contrast, the high modularity and strong s-core of the high-resolution cortical network are significantly stronger than in the surrogates, underlining their potential functional relevance in the brain.
Author Summary
Macroscopic regions in the grey matter of the human brain are intricately connected by white-matter pathways, forming the extremely complex network of the brain. Analysing this brain network may provide us insights on how anatomy enables brain function and, ultimately, cognition and consciousness. Various important principles of organization have indeed been consistently identified in the brain's structural connectivity, such as a small-world and modular architecture. However, it is currently unclear which of these principles are functionally relevant, and which are merely the consequence of more basic constraints of the brain, such as its three-dimensional spatial embedding into the limited volume of the skull or the high metabolic cost of long-range connections. In this paper, we model what aspects of the structural organization of the brain are affected by its wiring constraints by assessing how far these aspects are preserved in brain-like networks with varying spatial wiring constraints. We find that all investigated features of brain organization also appear in spatially constrained networks, but we also discover that several of the features are more pronounced in the brain than its wiring constraints alone would necessitate. These findings suggest the functional relevance of the ‘over-expressed’ properties of brain architecture.
PMCID: PMC3974635  PMID: 24699277
22.  Widespread reductions in gray matter volume in depression☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;3:332-339.
Abnormalities in functional limbic–anterior cingulate–prefrontal circuits associated with emotional reactivity, evaluation and regulation have been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, existing knowledge about structural alterations in depression is equivocal and based on cohorts of limited sample size. This study used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and surface-based cortical thickness to investigate the structure of these circuits in a large and well-characterized patient cohort with MDD.
Non-geriatric MDD outpatients (n = 102) and age- and gender-matched healthy control participants (n = 34) provided T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data during their baseline visit as part of the International Study to Predict Optimized Treatment for Depression. Whole-brain VBM volumetric and surface-based cortical thickness assessments were performed voxel-wise and compared (at p < 0.05 corrected for multiple comparisons) between the MDD and control groups.
MDD participants had reduced gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, regions of the prefrontal circuits, including dorsolateral and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices, and lateral and medial orbitofrontal cortices, but not in limbic regions. Additional reductions were observed cortically in the posterior temporal and parieto-occipital cortices and, subcortically in the basal ganglia and cerebellum. Focal cortical thinning in the medial orbitofrontal cortex was also observed for the MDD group. These alterations in volume and cortical thickness were not associated with severity of depressive symptoms.
The findings demonstrate that widespread gray matter structural abnormalities are present in a well-powered study of patients with depression. The patterns of gray matter loss correspond to the same brain functional network regions that were previously established to be abnormal in MDD, which may support an underlying structural abnormality for these circuits.
•Focal gray matter volume decrease in depression exceeded loss via aging 11–50 years.•Gray matter differences were found in regions with established roles in depression.•Structural change findings support the idea of depression as a network abnormality.•Hippocampal gray matter volume loss likely has no role in non-geriatric depression.•Amygdala gray matter volume loss likely plays no role in depression pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3814952  PMID: 24273717
AAL, Automated Anatomical Labeling; ACC, Anterior Cingulate Cortex; BAs, Brodmann Areas; CVNA, Change in Volume expected in that region through Normal Aging; DLPFC, Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex; DTI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging; FDR, False Discovery Rate; fMRI, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; GM, Gray Matter; HRSD17, 17-Item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression; iSPOT-D, International Study to Predict Optimized Treatment in Depression; MDD, Major Depressive Disorder; MPFC, Medial Prefrontal Cortex; MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging; OFC, Orbitofrontal Cortex; PFC, Prefrontal Cortex; VBM, Voxel-Based Morphometry; Gray matter; Major depressive disorder; VBM; Volume; Cortical thickness; iSPOT-D
23.  Cognitive and Clinical Dysfunction, Altered MEG Resting-State Networks and Thalamic Atrophy in Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69318.
The relation between pathological findings and clinical and cognitive decline in Multiple Sclerosis remains unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that altered functional connectivity could provide a missing link between structural findings, such as thalamic atrophy and white matter lesion load, and clinical and cognitive dysfunction. Resting-state magnetoencephalography recordings from 21 MS patients and 17 gender- and age matched controls were projected onto atlas-based regions-of–interest using beamforming. Average functional connectivity was computed for each ROI and literature-based resting-state networks using the phase-lag index. Structural measures of whole brain and thalamic atrophy and lesion load were estimated from MRI scans. Global analyses showed lower functional connectivity in the alpha2 band and higher functional connectivity in the beta band in patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Additionally, alpha2 band functional connectivity was lower for the patients in two resting-state networks, namely the default mode network and the visual network. Higher beta band functional connectivity was found in the default mode network and in the temporo-parietal network. Lower alpha2 band functional connectivity in the visual network was related to lower thalamic volumes. Beta band functional connectivity correlated positively with disability scores, most prominently in the default mode network, and correlated negatively with cognitive performance in this network. These findings illustrate the relationship between thalamic atrophy, altered functional connectivity and clinical and cognitive dysfunction in MS, which could serve as a bridge to understand how neurodegeneration is associated with altered functional connectivity and subsequently clinical and cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3729968  PMID: 23935983
24.  A combined post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging and quantitative histological study of multiple sclerosis pathology 
Brain  2012;135(10):2938-2951.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory neurological condition characterized by focal and diffuse neurodegeneration and demyelination throughout the central nervous system. Factors influencing the progression of pathology are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that anatomical connectivity influences the spread of neurodegeneration. This predicts that measures of neurodegeneration will correlate most strongly between interconnected structures. However, such patterns have been difficult to quantify through post-mortem neuropathology or in vivo scanning alone. In this study, we used the complementary approaches of whole brain post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging and quantitative histology to assess patterns of multiple sclerosis pathology. Two thalamo-cortical projection systems were considered based on their distinct neuroanatomy and their documented involvement in multiple sclerosis: lateral geniculate nucleus to primary visual cortex and mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus to prefrontal cortex. Within the anatomically distinct thalamo-cortical projection systems, magnetic resonance imaging derived cortical thickness was correlated significantly with both a measure of myelination in the connected tract and a measure of connected thalamic nucleus cell density. Such correlations did not exist between these markers of neurodegeneration across different thalamo-cortical systems. Magnetic resonance imaging lesion analysis depicted clearly demarcated subcortical lesions impinging on the white matter tracts of interest; however, quantitation of the extent of lesion-tract overlap failed to demonstrate any appreciable association with the severity of markers of diffuse pathology within each thalamo-cortical projection system. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging metrics in both white matter tracts were correlated significantly with a histologically derived measure of tract myelination. These data demonstrate for the first time the relevance of functional anatomical connectivity to the spread of multiple sclerosis pathology in a ‘tract-specific’ pattern. Furthermore, the persisting relationship between metrics from post-mortem diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and histological measures from fixed tissue further validates the potential of imaging for future neuropathological studies.
PMCID: PMC3470716  PMID: 23065787
multiple sclerosis; post-mortem imaging; diffusion imaging; white matter tracts; neurodegeneration
25.  Grey and white matter abnormalities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a case–control study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000844.
The irreversible airflow limitation characterised by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes a decrease in the oxygen supply to the brain. The aim of the present study was to investigate brain structural damage in COPD.
Retrospective case–control study. Patients with COPD and healthy volunteers were recruited. The two groups were matched in age, gender and educational background.
A hospital and a number of communities: they are all located in southern Fujian province, China.
25 stable patients and 25 controls were enrolled from December 2009 to May 2011.
Using voxel-based morphometry and tract-based spatial statistics based on MRI to analyse grey matter (GM) density and white matter fractional anisotropy (FA), respectively, and a battery of neuropsychological tests were performed.
Patients with COPD (vs controls) showed decreased GM density in the limbic and paralimbic structures, including right gyrus rectus, left precentral gyrus, bilateral anterior and middle cingulate gyri, bilateral superior temporal gyri, bilateral anterior insula extending to Rolandic operculum, bilateral thalamus/pulvinars and left caudate nucleus. Patients with COPD (vs controls) had decreased FA values in the bilateral superior corona radiata, bilateral superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculus, bilateral optic radiation, bilateral lingual gyri, left parahippocampal gyrus and fornix. Lower FA values in these regions were associated with increased radial diffusivity and no changes of longitudinal diffusivity. Patients with COPD had poor performances in the Mini-Mental State Examination, figure memory and visual reproduction. GM density in some decreased regions in COPD had positive correlations with arterial blood Po2, negative correlations with disease duration and also positive correlations with visual tasks.
The authors demonstrated that COPD exhibited loss of regional GM accompanied by impairment of white matter microstructural integrity, which was associated with disease severity and may underlie the pathophysiological and psychological changes of COPD.
Article summary
Article focus
Decreased oxygen supply to brain may cause neuronal damage in COPD. However, the damage remains largely uninvestigated.
Key messages
We found that COPD extends to the brain, with the loss of regional cortical grey matter accompanied by impairment in the white matter microstructural integrity.
Our findings would be help for clinical therapy of COPD.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Multiple analyses were used based on MR images. The statistic power for FA analysis was weak.
PMCID: PMC3341600  PMID: 22535793

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