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Patterns of white matter damage are non-random and associated with cognitive function in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Meijer, KA; Cercignani, M; Muhlert, N; Sethi, V; Chard, D; Geurts, JJG; Ciccarelli, O; (2016) Patterns of white matter damage are non-random and associated with cognitive function in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. NeuroImage: Clinical , 12 pp. 123-131. 10.1016/j.nicl.2016.06.009. Green open access

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Abstract

In multiple sclerosis (MS), white matter damage is thought to contribute to cognitive dysfunction, which is especially prominent in secondary progressive MS (SPMS). While studies in healthy subjects have revealed patterns of correlated fractional anisotropy (FA) across white matter tracts, little is known about the underlying patterns of white matter damage in MS. In the present study, we aimed to map the SPMS-related covariance patterns of microstructural white matter changes, and investigated whether or not these patterns were associated with cognitive dysfunction. Diffusion MRI was acquired from 30 SPMS patients and 32 healthy controls (HC). A tensor model was fitted and FA maps were processed using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) in order to obtain a skeletonised map for each subject. The skeletonised FA maps of patients only were decomposed into 18 spatially independent components (ICs) using independent component analysis. Comprehensive cognitive assessment was conducted to evaluate five cognitive domains. Correlations between cognitive performance and (1) severity of FA abnormalities of the extracted ICs (i.e. z-scores relative to FA values of HC) and (2) IC load (i.e. FA covariance of a particular IC) were examined. SPMS patients showed lower FA values of all examined patterns of correlated FA (i.e. spatially independent components) than HC (p b 0.01). Tracts visually assigned to the supratentorial commissural class were most severely damaged (z = −3.54; p b 0.001). Reduced FA was significantly correlated with reduced IC load (i.e. FA covariance) (r = 0.441; p b 0.05). Lower mean FA and component load of the supratentorial projection tracts and limbic association tracts classes were associated with worse cognitive function, including executive function, working memory and verbal memory. Despite the presence of white matter damage, it was possible to reveal patterns of FA covariance across SPMS patients. This could indicate that white matter tracts belonging to the same cluster, and thus with similar characteristics, tend to follow similar trends during neurodegeneration. Furthermore, these underlying FA patterns might help to explain cognitive dysfunction in SPMS.

Type: Article
Title: Patterns of white matter damage are non-random and associated with cognitive function in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2016.06.009
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2016.06.009
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis; Cognition; MRI; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tract-based spatial statistics; Independent component analysis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neuroinflammation
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1498794
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