BACKGROUND: To investigate white matter structural connectivity changes associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using network analysis and compare the results with those obtained using standard voxel-based methods, specifically Tract-based Spatial Statistics (TBSS).
METHODS: MRI data were acquired from 30 patients with ALS and 30 age-matched healthy controls. For each subject, 85 grey matter regions (network nodes) were identified from high resolution structural MRI, and network connections formed from the white matter tracts generated by diffusion MRI and probabilistic tractography. Whole-brain networks were constructed using strong constraints on anatomical plausibility and a weighting reflecting tract-averaged fractional anisotropy (FA).
RESULTS: Analysis using Network-based Statistics (NBS), without a priori selected regions, identified an impaired motor-frontal-subcortical subnetwork (10 nodes and 12 bidirectional connections), consistent with upper motor neuron pathology, in the ALS group compared with the controls (P = 0.020). Reduced FA in three of the impaired network connections, which involved fibers of the corticospinal tract, correlated with rate of disease progression (P ≤ 0.024). A novel network-tract comparison revealed that the connections involved in the affected network had a strong correspondence (mean overlap of 86.2%) with white matter tracts identified as having reduced FA compared with the control group using TBSS.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that white matter degeneration in ALS is strongly linked to the motor cortex, and that impaired structural networks identified using NBS have a strong correspondence to affected white matter tracts identified using more conventional voxel-based methods.J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- myotrophic lateral sclerosis
- white matter
- brain networks
- PROBABILISTIC DIFFUSION TRACTOGRAPHY
- CORTICOSPINAL TRACT DEGENERATION
- HUMAN CEREBRAL-CORTEX
- TENSOR TRACTOGRAPHY
- BRAIN NETWORKS