Background: Both epilepsy patients and brain tumor patients show altered functional connectivity and less optimal brain network topology when compared to healthy controls, particularly in the theta band. Furthermore, the duration and characteristics of epilepsy may also influence functional interactions in brain networks. However, the specific features of connectivity and networks in tumor-related epilepsy have not been investigated yet. We hypothesize that epilepsy characteristics are related to (theta band) connectivity and network architecture in operated glioma patients suffering from epileptic seizures. Included patients participated in a clinical study investigating the effect of levetiracetam monotherapy on seizure frequency in glioma patients, and were assessed at two time points: directly after neurosurgery (t1), and six months later (t2). At these time points, magnetoencephalography (MEG) was recorded and information regarding clinical status and epilepsy history was collected. Functional connectivity was calculated in six frequency bands, as were a number of network measures such as normalized clustering coefficient and path length.
Results: At the two time points, MEG registrations were performed in respectively 17 and 12 patients. No changes in connectivity or network topology occurred over time. Increased theta band connectivity at t1 and t2 was related to a higher total number of seizures. Furthermore, higher number of seizures was related to a less optimal, more random brain network topology. Other factors were not significantly related to functional connectivity or network topology.
Conclusions: These results indicate that (pathologically) increased theta band connectivity is related to a higher number of epileptic seizures in brain tumor patients, suggesting that theta band connectivity changes are a hallmark of tumor-related epilepsy. Furthermore, a more random brain network topology is related to greater vulnerability to seizures. Thus, functional connectivity and brain network architecture may prove to be important parameters of tumor-related epilepsy.