Changes in brain connectivity correlates with Parkinson’s symptoms

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By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the organization of the brain’s connectome, researchers have shown certain alterations in the brain’s connectivity correlate with symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), such as motor disturbances.

The study—led by Xueling Suo with the Huaxi MR Research Center at the West China Hospital in Sichuan, China—was published online Sept. 4 in Radiology.

“We used resting-state fMRI imaging and graph theory approaches to investigate the topologic organization of the brain functional connectome and possible disease severity-related alterations in patients with PD,” wrote the researchers. “We found that patients with PD had topological functional disorganizations of brain networks.”

As compared to healthy controls, the connectomes of people with PD showed reduced local specialization and reduced global integration.

The study included 170 right-handed PD patients who were recruited between September 2013 and January 2016. They were compared with 81 right-handed, age- and sex-matched healthy controls.

“The configurations of brain functional connectome in patients with PD were perturbed and correlated with disease severity, notably with those responsible for motor functions,” according to Suo et al.

They found that decreases in the nodal centralities in the right precentral gyrus, left postcentral gyrus and left superior temporal gyrus, which were correlated with a higher Hoehn and Yahr stage, were observed in default-mode network regions.

“Decreased nodal centralities in the sensorimotor cortex were in accordance with the classic motor symptoms of PD,” they stated.

The researchers foresee their work furthering the understanding of the underlying neurobiology of this disease and advancing the development of new biomarkers for the progression of Parkinson’s disease.