Parkinson's disease: deep learning with a parameter-weighted structural connectome matrix for diagnosis and neural circuit disorder investigation

Neuroradiology. 2021 Sep;63(9):1451-1462. doi: 10.1007/s00234-021-02648-4. Epub 2021 Jan 22.


Purpose: To investigate whether Parkinson's disease (PD) can be differentiated from healthy controls and to identify neural circuit disorders in PD by applying a deep learning technique to parameter-weighted and number of streamlines (NOS)-based structural connectome matrices calculated from diffusion-weighted MRI.

Methods: In this prospective study, 115 PD patients and 115 healthy controls were enrolled. NOS-based and parameter-weighted connectome matrices were calculated from MRI images obtained with a 3-T MRI unit. With 5-fold cross-validation, diagnostic performance of convolutional neural network (CNN) models using those connectome matrices in differentiating patients with PD from healthy controls was evaluated. To identify the important brain connections for diagnosing PD, gradient-weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM) was applied to the trained CNN models.

Results: CNN models based on some parameter-weighted structural matrices (diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI)-weighted, neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI)-weighted, and g-ratio-weighted connectome matrices) showed moderate performance (areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUCs) = 0.895, 0.801, and 0.836, respectively) in discriminating PD patients from healthy controls. The DKI-weighted connectome matrix performed significantly better than the conventional NOS-based matrix (AUC = 0.761) (DeLong's test, p < 0.0001). Alterations of neural connections between the basal ganglia and cerebellum were indicated by applying Grad-CAM to the NODDI- and g-ratio-weighted matrices.

Conclusion: Patients with PD can be differentiated from healthy controls by applying the deep learning technique to the parameter-weighted connectome matrices, and neural circuit disorders including those between the basal ganglia on one side and the cerebellum on the contralateral side were visualized.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Connectome; Deep learning; Magnetic resonance imaging; Parkinson disease.

MeSH terms

  • Connectome*
  • Deep Learning*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Prospective Studies