Intrinsic inter-network brain dysfunction correlates with symptom dimensions in late-life depression

Wenjun Li, Yang Wang, B Douglas Ward, Piero G Antuono, Shi-Jiang Li, Joseph S Goveas
Journal of Psychiatric Research 2017, 87: 71-80
Prior studies have demonstrated dysfunctions within the core neurocognitive networks (the executive control [ECN], default mode [DMN] and salience [SN] networks) in late-life depression (LLD). Whether inter-network dysfunctional connectivity is present in LLD, and if such disruptions are associated with core symptom dimensions is unknown. A cross-sectional resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging investigation was conducted of LLD (n = 39) and age- and gender-equated healthy comparison (HC) (n = 29) participants. Dual regression independent component analysis approach was used to identify components that represented the ECN, DMN and SN. The intrinsic inter-network connectivity was compared between LLD and HC participants and the relationship of inter-network connectivity abnormalities with dimensional measures was examined. Relative to HC participants, LLD subjects showed decreased inter-network connectivity between the bilateral ECN and default mode subcortical (thalamus, basal ganglia and ventral striatum) networks, and the left ECN and SN insula component; and increased inter-network connections between the left ECN and posterior DMN and salience (dorsal anterior cingulate) network components. Distinct inter-network connectivity abnormalities correlated with depression and anxiety severity, and executive dysfunction in LLD participants. LLD subjects also showed pronounced intra-network connectivity differences within the ECN, whereas fewer but significant DMN and SN disruptions were also detected. Investigating the intrinsic inter-network functional connectivity could provide a mechanistic framework to better understand the neural basis that underlies core symptom dimensions in LLD. Inter-network connectivity measures have the potential to be neuroimaging biomarkers of symptom dimensions comprising LLD, and may assist in developing symptom-specific treatment algorithms.

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