Journal article Open Access
Sala, Arianna; Caminiti, Silvia P; Presotto, Luca; Premi, Enrico; Pilotto, Andrea; Turrone, Rosanna; Cosseddu, Maura; Alberici, Antonella; Paghera, Barbara; Borroni, Barbara; Padovani, Alessandro; Perani, Daniela
To explore the effects of PD pathology on brain connectivity, we characterized with an emergent computational approach the brain metabolic connectome using [18F]FDG-PET in early idiopathic PD patients. We applied whole-brain and pathology-based connectivity analyses, using sparse-inverse covariance estimation in thirty-four cognitively normal PD cases and thirty-four age-matched healthy subjects for comparisons. Further, we assessed high-order resting state networks by interregional correlation analysis. Whole-brain analysis revealed altered metabolic connectivity in PD, with local decreases in frontolateral cortex and cerebellum and increases in the basal ganglia. Widespread long-distance decreases were present within the frontolateral cortex as opposed to connectivity increases in posterior cortical regions, all suggestive of a global-scale connectivity reconfiguration. The pathology-based analyses revealed significant connectivity impairment in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway and in the regions early affected by α-synuclein pathology. Notably, significant connectivity changes were present in several resting state networks especially in frontal regions. These findings expand previous imaging evidence of altered connectivity in cognitively stable PD patients by showing pathology-based connectivity changes and disease-specific metabolic architecture reconfiguration at multiple scale levels, from the earliest PD phases. These alterations go well beyond the known striato-cortical connectivity derangement supporting in vivo an extended neural vulnerability in the PD synucleinopathy.