Background: Impaired eye movements in multiple sclerosis (MS) are common and could represent a non-invasive and accurate measure of (dys)functioning of interconnected areas within the complex brain network. The aim of this study was to test whether altered saccadic eye movements are related to changes in functional connectivity (FC) in patients with MS.
Methods: Cross-sectional eye movement (pro-saccades and anti-saccades) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from the Amsterdam MS cohort were included from 176 MS patients and 33 healthy controls. FC was calculated between all regions of the Brainnetome atlas in six conventional frequency bands. Cognitive function and disability were evaluated by previously validated measures. The relationships between saccadic parameters and both FC and clinical scores in MS patients were analysed using multivariate linear regression models.
Results: In MS pro- and anti-saccades were abnormal compared to healthy controls A relationship of saccadic eye movements was found with FC of the oculomotor network, which was stronger for regional than global FC. In general, abnormal eye movements were related to higher delta and theta FC but lower beta FC. Strongest associations were found for pro-saccadic latency and FC of the precuneus (beta band β = -0.23, p = .006), peak velocity and FC of the parietal eye field (theta band β = -0.25, p = .005) and gain and FC of the inferior frontal eye field (theta band β = -0.25, p = .003). Pro-saccadic latency was also strongly associated with disability scores and cognitive dysfunction.
Conclusions: Impaired saccadic eye movements were related to functional connectivity of the oculomotor network and clinical performance in MS. This study also showed that, in addition to global network connectivity, studying regional changes in MEG studies could yield stronger correlations.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Brain network function; Eye movement; Magnetoencephalography; Multiple sclerosis; Neuro-ophthalmology.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.