Identification of abnormal closed-loop pathways in patients with MRI-negative pharmacoresistant epilepsy

Brain Imaging Behav. 2024 Apr 9. doi: 10.1007/s11682-024-00880-z. Online ahead of print.


Epilepsy is a disorder of brain networks, that is usually combined with cognitive and emotional impairment. However, most of the current research on closed-loop pathways in epilepsy is limited to the neuronal level or has focused only on known closed-loop pathways, and studies on abnormalities in closed-loop pathways in epilepsy at the whole-brain network level are lacking. A total of 26 patients with magnetic resonance imaging-negative pharmacoresistant epilepsy (MRIneg-PRE) and 26 healthy controls (HCs) were included in this study. Causal brain networks and temporal-lag brain networks were constructed from resting-state functional MRI data, and the Johnson algorithm was used to identify stable closed-loop pathways. Abnormal closed-loop pathways in the MRIneg-PRE cohort compared with the HC group were identified, and the associations of these pathways with indicators of cognitive and emotional impairments were examined via Pearson correlation analysis. The results revealed that the abnormal stable closed-loop pathways were distributed across the frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes and included altered functional connectivity values both within and between cerebral hemispheres. Four abnormal closed-loop pathways in the occipital lobe were associated with emotional and cognitive impairments. These abnormal pathways may serve as biomarkers for the diagnosis and guidance of individualized treatments for MRIneg-PRE patients.

Keywords: Causal brain networks; Closed-loop pathway analysis; Epilepsy; Functional connectivity; Temporal-lag brain networks.