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Characterization of resting state activity in MCI individuals

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Objectives. Aging is the major risk factor for Alzheimer Disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The aim of this study was to identify novel modifications of brain functional connectivity in MCI patients. MCI individuals were compared to healthy elderly subjects. Methods. We enrolled 37 subjects (age range 60-80 y.o.). Of these, 13 subjects were affected by MCI and 24 were age-matched healthy elderly control (HC). Subjects were evaluated with Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), and prose memory (Babcock story) tests. In addition, with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), we investigated resting state network (RSN) activities. Resting state (Rs) fMRI data were analyzed by means of Independent Component Analysis (ICA). Subjects were followed-up with neuropsychological evaluations for three years. Results. Rs-fMRI of MCI subjects showed increased intrinsic connectivity in the Default Mode Network (DMN) and in the Somatomotor Network (SMN). Analysis of the DMN showed statistically significant increased activation in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and left inferior parietal lobule (lIPL). During the three years follow-up, 4 MCI subjects converted to AD. The subset of MCI AD-converted patients showed increased connectivity in the right Inferior Parietal Lobule (rIPL). As for SMN activity, MCI and MCI-AD converted groups showed increased level of connectivity in correspondence of the right Supramarginal Gyrus (rSG). Conclusions. Our findings indicate alterations of DMN and SMN activity in MCI subjects, thereby providing potential imaging-based markers that can be helpful for the early diagnosis and monitoring of these patients.

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