Disrupted principal network organisation in multiple sclerosis relates to disability
Charalambous Thalis, Jonathan D Clayden, Elizabeth Powell, Ferran Prados, Carmen Tur, Baris Kanber, Declan Chard, Sebastien Ourselin, Claudia A M Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott, Alan J Thompson, Ahmed T Toosy
Structural network-based approaches can assess white matter connections revealing topological alterations in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, principal network (PN) organisation and its clinical relevance in MS has not been explored yet. Here, structural networks were reconstructed from diffusion data in 58 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 28 primary progressive MS (PPMS), 36 secondary progressive (SPMS) and 51 healthy controls (HCs). Network hubs' strengths were compared with HCs. Then, PN analysis was performed in each clinical subtype. Regression analysis was applied to investigate the associations between nodal strength derived from the first and second PNs (PN1 and PN2) in MS, with clinical disability. Compared with HCs, MS patients had preserved hub number, but some hubs exhibited reduced strength. PN1 comprised 10 hubs in HCs, RRMS and PPMS but did not include the right thalamus in SPMS. PN2 comprised 10 hub regions with intra-hemispheric connections in HCs. In MS, this subnetwork did not include the right putamen whilst in SPMS the right thalamus was also not included. Decreased nodal strength of the right thalamus and putamen from the PNs correlated strongly with higher clinical disability. These PN analyses suggest distinct patterns of disruptions in MS subtypes which are clinically relevant.