Introduction: Cognitive impairment (CI) is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated structural and functional brain alterations underlying CI in patients with ESRD. However, the patterns of change in whole-brain functional networks in ESRD patients with CI remain poorly understood.
Methods: We enrolled 66 patients with ESRD (36 patients with CI and 30 patients without CI) and 48 healthy control subjects (HCs). We calculated the topological properties using a graph theoretical analysis. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare network metrics among the three groups. Moreover, we analyzed the relationships between altered network measures and clinical variables in ESRD patients with CI.
Results: Compared with HCs, both patient groups showed lower local efficiency and small-worldness. ESRD patients had decreased nodal centralities in the default mode regions and right amygdala. Comparison of the two patient groups showed significantly decreased global (small-worldness) and nodal (nodal centralities in the default mode regions) properties in the CI group. Altered nodal centralities in the bilateral medial part of the superior frontal gyrus, left posterior cingulate gyrus, and right precuneus were associated with cognitive performance in the CI group.
Conclusion: Disrupted brain functional networks were demonstrated in patients with ESRD, which were more severe in those with CI. Moreover, impaired nodal centralities in the default mode regions might underlie CI in patients with ESRD.
Keywords: brain functional networks; cognitive impairment; end-stage renal disease; functional magnetic resonance imaging; graph theoretical analysis; resting state.
© 2021 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.