2019, Vol. 3, No. 2, Pages 635-652
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license
Disrupted core-periphery structure of multimodal brain networks in Alzheimer’s disease
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In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the progressive atrophy leads to aberrant network reconfigurations both at structural and functional levels. In such network reorganization, the core and peripheral nodes appear to be crucial for the prediction of clinical outcome because of their ability to influence large-scale functional integration. However, the role of the different types of brain connectivity in such prediction still remains unclear. Using a multiplex network approach we integrated information from DWI, fMRI, and MEG brain connectivity to extract an enriched description of the core-periphery structure in a group of AD patients and age-matched controls. Globally, the regional coreness—that is, the probability of a region to be in the multiplex core—significantly decreased in AD patients as result of a random disconnection process initiated by the neurodegeneration. Locally, the most impacted areas were in the core of the network—including temporal, parietal, and occipital areas—while we reported compensatory increments for the peripheral regions in the sensorimotor system. Furthermore, these network changes significantly predicted the cognitive and memory impairment of patients. Taken together these results indicate that a more accurate description of neurodegenerative diseases can be obtained from the multimodal integration of neuroimaging-derived network data.Alzheimer’s disease includes a progressive destruction of axonal pathways leading to global network changes. While these changes affect both the anatomy and the function of the brain, a joint characterization of the impact on the nodes of the network is still lacking. By integrating information from multiple neuroimaging data, within a modern complex systems framework, we show that the nodes constituting the core of the brain network are the most impacted by the disconnection process. Furthermore, these network alterations significantly predict the cognitive and memory impairment of patients and represent potential biomarkers of disease progression. We posit that a more accurate description of neurodegenerative diseases can be obtained by analyzing and modeling brain networks derived from multimodal neuroimaging data.