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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Aberrant intrinsic activity and connectivity in cognitively normal Parkinson's disease

  • Author(s): Harrington, DL
  • Shen, Q
  • Castillo, GN
  • Vincent Filoteo, J
  • Litvan, I
  • Takahashi, C
  • French, C
  • et al.

© 2017 Harrington, Shen, Castillo, Filoteo, Litvan, Takahashi and French. Disturbances in intrinsic activity during resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI) are common in Parkinson's disease (PD), but have largely been studied in a priori defined subnetworks. The cognitive significance of abnormal intrinsic activity is also poorly understood, as are abnormalities that precede the onset of mild cognitive impairment. To address these limitations, we leveraged three different analytic approaches to identify disturbances in rsfMRI metrics in 31 cognitively normal PD patients (PD-CN) and 30 healthy adults. Subjects were screened for mild cognitive impairment using the Movement Disorders Society Task Force Level II criteria. Whole-brain data-driven analytic approaches first analyzed the amplitude of low-frequency intrinsic fluctuations (ALFF) and regional homogeneity (ReHo), a measure of local connectivity amongst functionally similar regions. We then examined if regional disturbances in these metrics altered functional connectivity with other brain regions. We also investigated if abnormal rsfMRI metrics in PD-CN were related to brain atrophy and executive, visual organization, and episodic memory functioning. The results revealed abnormally increased and decreased ALFF and ReHo in PD-CN patients within the default mode network (posterior cingulate, inferior parietal cortex, parahippocampus, entorhinal cortex), sensorimotor cortex (primary motor, pre/post-central gyrus), basal ganglia (putamen, caudate), and posterior cerebellar lobule VII, which mediates cognition. For default mode network regions, we also observed a compound profile of altered ALFF and ReHo. Most regional disturbances in ALFF and ReHo were associated with strengthened long-range interactions in PD-CN, notably with regions in different networks. Stronger long-range functional connectivity in PD-CN was also partly expanded to connections that were outside the networks of the control group. Abnormally increased activity and functional connectivity appeared to have a pathological, rather than compensatory influence on cognitive abilities tested in this study. Receiver operating curve analyses demonstrated excellent sensitivity (=90%) of rsfMRI variables in distinguishing patients from controls, but poor accuracy for brain volume and cognitive variables. Altogether these results provide new insights into the topology, cognitive relevance, and sensitivity of aberrant intrinsic activity and connectivity that precedes clinically significant cognitive impairment. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine if these neurocognitive associations presage the development of future mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

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