Structural and functional connectivity of the whole brain and subnetworks in individuals with mild traumatic brain injury: Predictors of patient prognosis

Sihong Huang, Jungong Han, Hairong Zheng, Mengjun Li, Chuxin Huang, Xiaoyan Kui, Jun Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Patients with mild traumatic brain injury have a diverse clinical presentation, and the underlying pathophysiology remains poorly understood. Magnetic resonance imaging is a non-invasive technique that has been widely utilized to investigate neurobiological markers after mild traumatic brain injury. This approach has emerged as a promising tool for investigating the pathogenesis of mild traumatic brain injury. Graph theory is a quantitative method of analyzing complex networks that has been widely used to study changes in brain structure and function. However, most previous mild traumatic brain injury studies using graph theory have focused on specific populations, with limited exploration of simultaneous abnormalities in structural and functional connectivity. Given that mild traumatic brain injury is the most common type of traumatic brain injury encountered in clinical practice, further investigation of the patient characteristics and evolution of structural and functional connectivity is critical. In the present study, we explored whether abnormal structural and functional connectivity in the acute phase could serve as indicators of longitudinal changes in imaging data and cognitive function in patients with mild traumatic brain injury. In this longitudinal study, we enrolled 46 patients with mild traumatic brain injury who were assessed within 2 weeks of injury, as well as 36 healthy controls. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion-weighted imaging data were acquired for graph theoretical network analysis. In the acute phase, patients with mild traumatic brain injury demonstrated reduced structural connectivity in the dorsal attention network. More than 3 months of followup data revealed signs of recovery in structural and functional connectivity, as well as cognitive function, in 22 out of the 46 patients. Furthermore, better cognitive function was associated with more efficient networks. Finally, our data indicated that small-worldness in the acute stage could serve as a predictor of longitudinal changes in connectivity in patients with mild traumatic brain injury. These findings highlight the importance of integrating structural and functional connectivity in understanding the occurrence and evolution of mild traumatic brain injury. Additionally, exploratory analysis based on subnetworks could serve a predictive function in the prognosis of patients with mild traumatic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1558
Number of pages6
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Volume19
Issue number7
Early online date08 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 08 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • cognitive function
  • cross-section
  • follow-up
  • functional connectivity
  • graph theory
  • longitudinal study
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • prediction
  • small-worldness
  • structural connectivity
  • subnetworks
  • whole brain network

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