Altered resting-state hippocampal and caudate functional networks in patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Brain Behav. 2018 Jun;8(6):e00994. doi: 10.1002/brb3.994. Epub 2018 May 10.


Introduction: Brain structural injury and metabolic deficits in the hippocampus and caudate nuclei may contribute to cognitive and emotional deficits found in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients. If such contributions exist, resting-state interactions of these subcortical sites with cortical areas mediating affective symptoms and cognition should be disturbed. Our aim was to examine resting-state functional connectivity (FC) of the hippocampus and caudate to other brain areas in OSA relative to control subjects, and to relate these changes to mood and neuropsychological scores.

Methods: We acquired resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from 70 OSA and 89 healthy controls using a 3.0-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner, and assessed psychological and behavioral functions, as well as sleep issues. After standard fMRI data preprocessing, FC maps were generated for bilateral hippocampi and caudate nuclei, and compared between groups (ANCOVA; covariates, age and gender).

Results: Obstructive sleep apnea subjects showed significantly higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms over healthy controls. In OSA subjects, the hippocampus showed disrupted FC with the thalamus, para-hippocampal gyrus, medial and superior temporal gyrus, insula, and posterior cingulate cortex. Left and right caudate nuclei showed impaired FC with the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and right angular gyrus. In addition, altered limbic-striatal-cortical FC in OSA showed relationships with behavioral and neuropsychological variables.

Conclusions: The compromised hippocampal-cortical FC in OSA may underlie depression and anxious mood levels in OSA, while impaired caudate-cortical FC may indicate deficits in reward processing and cognition. These findings provide insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the comorbidity of mood and cognitive deficits in OSA.

Keywords: anxiety; caudate nucleus; depression; functional magnetic resonance imaging; hippocampus; resting-state functional connectivity; sleep disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / psychology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology