Changes in structural network are associated with cortical demyelination in early multiple sclerosis

Hum Brain Mapp. 2018 May;39(5):2133-2146. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23993. Epub 2018 Feb 6.


The aim of this study was to investigate the interplay between structural connectivity and cortical demyelination in early multiple sclerosis. About 27 multiple sclerosis patients and 18 age-matched controls underwent two MRI scanning sessions. The first was done at 7T and involved acquiring quantitative T1 and T2 * high-resolution maps to estimate cortical myelination. The second was done on a Connectom scanner and consisted of acquiring high angular resolution diffusion-weighted images to compute white matter structural connectivity metrics: strength, clustering and local efficiency. To further investigate the interplay between structural connectivity and cortical demyelination, patients were divided into four groups according to disease-duration: 0-1 year, 1-2 years, 2-3 years, and >3 years. ANOVA and Spearman's correlations were used to highlight relations between metrics. ANOVA detected a significant effect between disease duration and both cortical myelin (p = 2 × 10-8 ) and connectivity metrics (p < 10-4 ). We observed significant cortical myelin loss in the shorter disease-duration cohorts (0-1 year, p = .0015), and an increase in connectivity in the longer disease-duration cohort (2-3 years, strength: p = .01, local efficiency: p = .002, clustering: p = .001). Moreover, significant covariations between myelin estimation and white matter connectivity metrics were observed: Spearman's Rho correlation coefficients of 0.52 (p = .0003), 0.55 (p = .0001), and 0.53 (p = .0001) for strength, local efficiency, and clustering, respectively. An association between cortical myelin loss and changes in white matter connectivity in early multiple sclerosis was detected. These changes in network organization might be the result of compensatory mechanisms in response to the ongoing cortical diffuse damage in the early stages of multiple sclerosis.

Keywords: connectome; cortical microstricture; high field; multiple sclerosis; myelin; quantitative MRI; structural network; surface-based analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Connectome
  • Demyelinating Diseases / complications
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / pathology*