fMRI studies in mice typically require the use of anesthetics. Yet, it is known that anesthesia alters responses to stimuli or functional networks at rest. In this work, we have used Dual Regression analysis Network Modeling to investigate the effects of two commonly used anesthetics, isoflurane and medetomidine, on rs-fMRI derived functional networks, and in particular to what extent anesthesia affected the interaction within and between these networks. Experimental data have been used from a previous study (Grandjean et al., 2014). We applied multivariate ICA analysis and Dual Regression to infer the differences in functional connectivity between isoflurane- and medetomidine-anesthetized mice. Further network analysis was performed to investigate within- and between-network connectivity differences between these anesthetic regimens. The results revealed five major networks in the mouse brain: lateral cortical, associative cortical, default mode, subcortical, and thalamic network. The anesthesia regime had a profound effect both on within- and between-network interactions. Under isoflurane anesthesia predominantly intra- and inter-cortical interactions have been observed, with only minor interactions involving subcortical structures and in particular attenuated cortico-thalamic connectivity. In contrast, medetomidine-anesthetized mice displayed subcortical functional connectivity including interactions between cortical and thalamic ICA components. Combining the two anesthetics at low dose resulted in network interaction that constituted the superposition of the interaction observed for each anesthetic alone. The study demonstrated that network modeling is a promising tool for analyzing the brain functional architecture in mice and comparing alterations therein caused by different physiological or pathological states. Understanding the differential effects of anesthetics on brain networks and their interaction is essential when interpreting fMRI data recorded under specific physiological and pathological conditions.
Keywords: anesthesia; brain network analysis; dual regression; fMRI; isoflurane; medetomidine; network interactions; rodent fMRI.