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Reorganization of structural brain networks in Parkinson's disease with postural instability/gait difficulty.

Neuroscience Letters 2024 March 20
The Postural Instability/Gait Difficulty (PIGD) subtype of Parkinson's disease (PD) has a faster disease progression, a higher risk of cognitive and motor decline, yet the alterations of structural topological organization remain unknown. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and 3D-TI scanning were conducted on 31 PD patients with PIGD (PD-PIGD), 30 PD patients without PIGD (PD-non-PIGD) and 35 Healthy Controls (HCs). Structural networks were constructed using DTI brain white matter fiber tractography. A graph theory approach was applied to characterize the topological properties of complex structural networks, and the relationships between significantly different network metrics and motor deficits were analyzed within the PD-PIGD group. PD-PIGD patients exhibited increased shortest path length compared with PD-non-PIGD and HCs (P < 0.05, respectively). Additionally, PD-PIGD patients exhibited decreased nodal properties, mainly in the cerebellar vermis, prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, and visual regions. Notably, the degree centrality of the cerebellar vermis was negatively correlated with the PIGD score (r = -0.390; P = 0.030) and Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Part III score (r = -0.436; P = 0.014) in PD-PIGD patients. Furthermore, network-based statistical analysis revealed decreased structural connectivity between the prefrontal lobe, putamen, supplementary motor area, insula, and cingulate gyrus in PD-PIGD patients. Our findings demonstrated that PD-PIGD patients existed abnormal structural connectomes in the cerebellar vermis, frontal-parietal cortex and visual regions. These topological differences can provide a topological perspective for understanding the potential pathophysiological mechanisms of PIGD in PD.

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